FHFA & Treasury “Exceeded” Authority On Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac: Yale Legal Scholar

FHFA & Treasury “Exceeded” Authority On Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac: Yale Legal Scholar

Fannie Mae

Photo by NCinDC

Yale Legal Scholar: FHFA & Treasury “Exceeded” Authority On Fannie Mae And Freddie Mac by Investors Unite

Writing in the National Law Review, Yale Law School lecturer Logan Beirne dissects the recently filed lawsuit in Iowa by three Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac investors accusing the federal government of exceeding its authority as a conservator. Beirne says the case “astutely focuses on [the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s statutory breeches,” unlike the earlier suits that focused on constitutional claims. Beirne writes:

Play Quizzes 4

“However, rather than work as conservator to benefit Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s shareholders, as is its obligation under traditional conservatorship law, the FHFA acted for the benefit of the U.S. government – and to the detriment of those private shareholders. In a surprise deal, the FHFA effectively wiped out the private shareholders and essentially turned the proceeds of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to the U.S. Treasury.”

When the government decided to put the enterprises into conservatorship, it was done in part to ensure that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac did not experience more distress than they already had. We’ve noted before that the government imposed tough terms in exchange for this, but at the time, the vast majority believed it was a necessary step. As Beirne points out, the companies returned to profitability by the second quarter in 2012 … and then the Third Amendment Sweep was created just a few months later.

How A Weakening PE Market Serves As Another Sign Of A Weakening Economy

InvestAmid the turmoil in the public markets and the staggering macroeconomic environment, it should come as no surprise that the private markets are also struggling. In fact, there are some important links between private equity and the current economic environment. A closer look at PE reveals that the industry often serves as a leading indicator Read More

As a conservator, though, FHFA, despite comments from officials, had a statutory obligation to shareholders. Concerns for taxpayers are important, yes, but breeches of contractual responsibilities are frowned upon, and can lead to future distrust. Beirne writes:

“As conservator under HERA, it is precisely the FHFA’s responsibility to work for the benefit of the shareholders. Under standard corporate law principles, that conservator is bound, by a strong fiduciary duty to protect the corporate assets for the benefit of both common and preferred shareholders. By working for the benefit of third party taxpayers – and to the detriment of private shareholders – the FHFA is in breach of its duties under HERA.”

The three plaintiffs in the Iowa case – Thomas Saxton, Ida Saxton and Bradly Paynter – have alleged that FHFA and the U.S. Treasury “systemically exceeded their limited authority under HERA” and “acted arbitrarily and capriciously.” Anyone who’s familiar with the history here should certainly agree with that. Beirne rightly concludes that while the “political winds of the moment” make the seizure of private property from shareholder seem popular, the long-term consequences of allowing this violation of the rule of law to go unchecked would have very costly consequences on the housing market.

We strongly encourage you to spend a few minutes reading the piece – it’s well worth your time.

More from Investors Unite

  • Housing: Administration must save dream
  • Perspectives on HERA Shareholders Can Take to the Bank – Or at Least Should
  • New Shareholder Lawsuit: The Government’s Actions Are Illegal
  • Teleconference: New Paper Shows Conservatorship of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Does Not Comply with the Law
  • Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader? Ed DeMarco Hopes You Aren’t

Updated on

No posts to display


  1. The US is becoming Communism by the days! While China is becoming free, some parts are democratic. Yet, no one seemed to concern! It has been above the law, yet it expected others to obey the law! You sow what you reap!

Comments are closed.