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FHFA Announces Suspension of Capital Classifications During Conservatorship

Discloses Minimum And Risk-Based Capital Classifications As Undercapitalized For The Second Quarter 2008 For Fannie Mae And Freddie Mac


Washington, D.C. – James B. Lockhart III, Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), the safety and soundness regulator for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the Federal Home Loan Banks, placed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into conservatorship on September 7, 2008. The capital requirements and classification process articulated in statute are established as part of a prompt corrective action framework that requires supervisory actions to be taken promptly and in a graduated manner that culminates, in the most serious cases, in the appointment of a conservator or receiver. While in conservatorship status, the Enterprises will not be subject to other prompt corrective action requirements. The Treasury Department, in conjunction with the conservatorship, provided two facilities to support the Enterprises. The GSE Credit Facility is available to provide liquidity through secured loans as needed. The Senior Preferred Stock Purchase Agreement ensures that for the very long-term that both entities will have positive net worth. The Director is, therefore, announcing several capital-related decisions impacting future reporting processes.

Suspension of Capital Classifications During Conservatorship

The Director has determined that it is prudent and in the best interests of the market to suspend capital classifications of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac during the conservatorship, in light of the United States Treasury’s Senior Preferred Stock Purchase Agreement. FHFA will continue to closely monitor capital levels, but the existing statutory and FHFA-directed regulatory capital requirements will not be binding during the conservatorship.

Management During Conservatorship

In accordance with the Senior Preferred Stock Agreement FHFA, as conservator, has directed the Enterprises to focus on managing to a positive stockholder’s equity. Both Enterprises during conservatorship will work to ensure that they fulfill their mission of providing liquidity, stability and affordability to the mortgage market.

Disclosure of Capital Positions During Conservatorship

During the conservatorship, FHFA will not issue a quarterly capital classification. The Enterprises will continue to submit capital reports to FHFA during the conservatorship. Relevant capital figures (minimum capital requirement, core capital, and GAAP net worth) will be available in the Enterprises’ quarterly 10-Q filings, as well as on FHFA’s website to ensure market transparency. FHFA does not intend to publish critical capital, risk-based capital, or subordinated debt levels during the conservatorship. In light of its new authority under the Housing and Economic Recovery Act, FHFA will be revising minimum capital and risk-based capital requirements.

Second Quarter Capital Classification

Director Lockhart is classifying Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as of June 30, 2008, prior to the conservatorship, as undercapitalized using FHFA’s discretionary authority provided in the statute. Both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have publicly released financial results for the second quarter 2008. Although both Enterprises’ capital calculations for June 30, 2008 reflect that they met the FHFA and statutory requirements for capital, the continued market downturn during late July and August raised significant questions about the sufficiency of capital. The following factors, which led to the need for conservatorship, support the Director’s decision to downgrade the classification to undercapitalized:

  • Accelerating safety and soundness weaknesses, especially with regard to credit risk, earnings outlook, and capitalization;

  • Continued and substantial deterioration in equity, debt, and MBS market conditions;

  • The current and projected financial performance and condition of each company as reflected in its second quarter financial reports and our ongoing examinations;

  •  The inability of the companies to raise capital or to issue debt according to normal practices and prices;

  • The critical importance of each company in supporting the country’s residential mortgage market; and

  • Concerns that a growing proportion of their respective statutory core capital consisted of intangible assets.

The Federal Housing Enterprises Financial Safety and Soundness Act of 1992, as amended by the Federal Housing Finance and Regulatory Reform Act, Division A of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act, Public Law No. 111-289, Stat. 2654 (2008) requires the FHFA Director to determine the capital level and classification of the Enterprises not less than quarterly, and to report the results to Congress. FHFA classifies the Enterprises as adequately capitalized, undercapitalized, significantly undercapitalized or critically undercapitalized. The Enterprises are required by federal statute to meet both minimum and risk-based capital standards to be classified as adequately capitalized. The Director has the authority to make a discretionary downgrade of the capital adequacy classification should certain safety and soundness conditions arise that could impact future capital adequacy. This classification requirement serves no purpose once an Enterprise has been placed into conservatorship. 



Minimum Capital

Fannie Mae’s FHFA-directed capital requirement on June 30, 2008 was $37.5 billion and its statutory minimum capital requirement was $32.6 billion. Fannie Mae’s core capital of $47.0 billion exceeded the FHFA-directed capital requirement by $9.4 billion.

Freddie Mac’s FHFA-directed capital requirement on June 30, 2008 was $34.5 billion and its statutory minimum capital requirement was $28.7 billion. Freddie Mac’s core capital of $37.1 billion exceeded the FHFA-directed minimum capital requirement by $2.7 billion.

​Enterprise Minimum Capital Requirement (Billions of Dollars) (a,b)
Fannie Mae Freddie Mac​ ​
​30-Jun-08 ​31-Mar-08 ​30-Jun-08​ ​31-Mar-08
Minimum Capital – Statutory Requirement 32.631 ​31.335 ​28.709 ​26.937
Minimum Capital – FHFA Directed Requirement ​37.525 ​37.602 ​24.451 ​32.324
Core Capital ​46.964 ​42.676 ​37.128 ​38.319
Surplus (Deficit) (based on FHFA Directed Requirement) ​9.439 ​5.074 ​2.676 ​5.995
Surplus as a Percent of FHFA Directed Requirement ​25.2% ​13.5% ​7.8% ​18.5%


a. Numbers may not add due to rounding.

b. FHFA has directed both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to maintain additional capital in excess of the statutory minimum capital requirement. The excess capital requirement has been in place since January 28, 2004, for Freddie Mac and since September 30, 2005, for Fannie Mae. For both Enterprises the requirement was reduced from 30% to 20% on March 19, 2008. On May 19, 2008 the requirement was further reduced for Fannie Mae to 15%. The FHFA-directed minimum capital requirements and capital surplus numbers stated in these charts reflect the inclusion of the additional FHFA-directed capital requirements of 15% for Fannie Mae and 20% for Freddie Mac for the quarter-end June 30, 2008.  

Risk-Based Capital

As of June 30, 2008, Fannie Mae’s risk-based capital requirement was $36.3 billion. Fannie Mae’s total capital of $55.6 billion on that date exceeded the requirement by $19.3 billion.

As of June 30, 2008, Freddie Mac’s risk-based capital requirement was $20.1 billion. Freddie Mac’s total capital of $42.9 billion on that date exceeded the requirement by $22.8 billion.


​Enterprise Risk-Based Capital Requirement (Billions of Dollars) (a)
​Interest Rate Scenario ​Fannie Mae ​Freddie Mac
​30-Jun-08 ​31-Mar-08 ​30-Jun-08 ​31-Mar-08
​Up ​Down Up​ ​Down ​Up Down​ ​Up Down​
​Risk Based Capital Requirement ​6.196 ​36.288 ​14.344 ​23.099 ​0.237 ​20.139 ​5.127 ​26.060
​Total Capital ​55.568 ​47.666 ​42.916 ​42.173
​Surplus (Deficit) ​19.280 ​24.567 ​22.777 ​16.113


a. Numbers may not add due to rounding. 


Core Capital is the sum of outstanding common stock, perpetual, noncumulative preferred stock, paid-in capital, and retained earnings. Core capital does not include Accumulated Other Comprehensive Income (AOCI), which is captured as part of stockholder’s equity.

Total Capital is the sum of Core Capital plus the allowance for loan losses.

Minimum Capital represents an essential amount of capital needed to protect an Enterprise against broad categories of business risk. For purposes of minimum capital, an Enterprise is considered by law adequately capitalized if core capital—common stock; perpetual noncumulative preferred stock; paid in capital; and retained earnings—equals or exceeds minimum capital. The minimum capital standard is 2.5 percent of assets plus 0.45 percent of adjusted off-balance-sheet obligations, including guaranteed mortgage securities.

The FHFA-directed capital requirement is the amount of capital the Enterprise is required to maintain to compensate for increased operational risks including systems, accounting, and internal control risks. The level is prescribed by the Director of FHFA. This requirement is calculated by multiplying the statutory minimum capital requirement by 1.x times, where x equals the percentage requirement in effect for the time period. On March 19, 2008, FHFA announced an agreement with the Enterprises to reduce the FHFA-directed capital requirement from 30 percent to 20 percent in recognition of the significant remediation efforts and the commitments by the Enterprises to raise significant new capital and to retain substantial surpluses over the FHFA-directed requirement. The FHFA-directed requirement as of June 30, 2008 was 1.20 times the statutory minimum capital requirement for Freddie Mac and 1.15 times the statutory minimum capital requirement for Fannie Mae.

FHFA’s risk-based capital requirement is the amount of total capital—core capital plus a general allowance for loan losses less specific reserves—that an Enterprise must hold to absorb projected losses flowing from future adverse interest-rate and credit-risk conditions specified by statute, plus 30 percent mandated by statute to cover management and operations risk. The risk-based capital standard is based on stress test results calculated for the two statutorily prescribed interest rate scenarios, one in which 10-year Treasury yields rise 75 percent (up-rate scenario) and another in which they fall 50 percent (down-rate scenario). Changes in both scenarios are generally capped at 600 basis points. The risk-based capital level for an Enterprise is the amount of total capital that would enable it to survive the stress test in whichever scenario is more adverse for that Enterprise, plus 30 percent of that amount to cover management and operations risk.

The critical capital level is the amount of core capital below which an Enterprise must be classified as critically undercapitalized and generally must be placed in conservatorship. Critical capital levels are computed consistent with the Federal Housing Enterprises Safety and Soundness Act of 1992 as follows: One-half of the portion of minimum capital requirement associated with on-balance-sheet assets plus five-ninths of the portion of the minimum capital requirement associated with off-balance-sheet obligations. The critical capital trigger is irrelevant during the conservatorship period.



The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) combines the responsibilities of the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO), the Federal Housing Finance Board (FHFB) and the HUD government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) mission team to regulate Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the 12 Federal Home Loan Banks. Together these 14 GSEs provide funding for $6.2 trillion of residential mortgages in the U.S.

Corinne Russell (202) 649-3032 / Stefanie Johnson (202) 649-3030
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