Friday, 29 January 2010 23:00

Quick Bank Thoughts

The lead story this morning of ZH is "The Only Thing Better Than A Zero Hedge? Wells Fargo's "Never Lose" Economic Hedge", explaining more accounting shenanigans (if you read the links below, you will see that I have caught Wells in a few rather aggressive interpretations) related to MSR's. One thing that was noted was the inputs for valuing MSRs using interest rates as was extolled by management. Well...

The biggest input for MSRs are foreclosures, not interest rates. The interest rate argument is academic (assuming a refinance, that may or may not happen when few can qualify) while the foreclosures are happening at a much more rapid and prevalent clip and are much more likely to happen. The foreclosures are also a guaranteed end to MSR income. You can't service a loan on an REO, now can you? So while interest rates are remaining steady and can be put into an MSR valuation formula for a positive GAAP dollar generating result, foreclosures are on the rise and will continue to be, which will (and rightfully so) drive down the values of MSRs. This is probably why (the more academic) interest rates are used for inputs in lieu of a straight pipe to the foreclosure rates.

For those who haven't read my take on Well's Q4, you can read it here: http://boombustblog.com/Reggie-Middleton/1293-The-Wells-Fargo-4th-Quarter-Review-is-Available-and-Its-a-Doozy.html.

This is also a reason why assets need to be market to market, and not to model. Outside of the possibility of the models actually being faulty or just plain old wrong, they are subject to bias and fraud. If one were to simply force he banks to reveal cash flows and yields on the MSRs, as in raw revenues less all expenses divided by acquisition costs, I am sure you will find an inverse relationship with localized foreclosure rates, much tighter than that of interest rates. You will also find that, on a discounted basis, these MSRs are highly overvalued on bank's books. Unfortunately, banks don't do this so the easiest way to get to the values is to let the market set it.

Anybody who is a member of my blog should download the forensic reports from 2009 to remind themselves of the amount of issues that reside within Wells. It is very, very overrated.

In the WSJ, there was a story about Fannie forcing loan buybacks that breached warranty. This concept needs to gain more traction because it will probably dropped profitability by a quarter or a third at those banks that bought loans from the "liar loan" institutions, ex. Wachovia, WaMu, National City, Lehman and Countrywide.


"It is payback time for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac on some mortgages sold to the finance companies by lenders.

Stuck with about $300 billion in loans to borrowers at least 90 days behind on payments, Fannie and Freddie have unleashed armies of auditors and other employees to sift through mortgage files for proof of underwriting flaws. The two mortgage-finance companies are flexing their muscles to force banks to repurchase loans found to contain improper documentation about a borrower's income or outright lies.

The result: Freddie Mac required lenders to buy back $2.7 billion of loans in the first nine months of 2009, a 125% jump from $1.2 billion a year earlier. Fannie Mae won't disclose its figure, but trade publication Inside Mortgage Finance said Fannie made $4.3 billion in loan-repurchase requests in the first nine months of 2009.

"Because taxpayers are involved, we're being very vigilant," said Maria Brewster, who oversees Fannie's repurchase team. "No taxpayer should have to pay for a business decision that caused a bad loan to be sold to Fannie Mae."

[Pushback]

The get-tough stance comes amid pressure on Fannie and Freddie to make the most out of more than $100 billion in taxpayer funds they got to stay afloat. The U.S. government took them over in September 2008."

I clearly pointed this out in my quarter discussion of JPM and Wells Fargo, see

JPM 4Q09 review.Subscribers will be well suited to run through the forensic reports in the download section and subtract a likely buyback reserve from projected earnings which are already on a sharp downward slope from the refinance plateau and reversal coming off of the initial decline in mortage rates. As I have been saying all along, this ain't over yet, not by a long shot.

Last modified on Friday, 29 January 2010 23:00