President McCargo MBA Annual 2022 Conference Speech
Thank you for that warm introduction and good morning, everyone.
It is a great time to be together with all of you.
Since my arrival in Nashville yesterday, I have had a chance to meet with MBA’s Warehouse Lender Council and other key stakeholders, and I look forward to meeting with the Lender Roundtable later today.
This conference is always a great opportunity to meet and connect with a variety of stakeholders and counterparties and discuss the current market landscape, and it’s especially timely this year.
It is a pleasure to share this stage with two phenomenal women in housing finance—FHA Commissioner Gordon and FHFA Director Thompson. I am grateful for our collaboration and partnership. We share a common mission to engage with our industry partners so that we can increase access to credit and improve outcomes for households and communities that rely on our respective agencies for access to affordable homeownership and rental housing.
I have the honor and privilege of being the President of one of the largest and most impactful social enterprises in the world at Ginnie Mae. I take pride in the unique and serious role we have as a government corporation that supports and sustains the financing of affordable housing for millions of Americans. No other entity is quite like Ginnie Mae inside federal government.
We exist to provide a full faith and credit guaranty by the U.S. Government on mortgage-backed securities that are collateralized by loans insured by FHA, Rural Development, Veterans Affairs, and Public and Indian Housing mortgage loan guarantee programs. Our government guaranty attracts capital from around the world toward investment in the U.S. housing market. We are a force multiplier for our insuring and guaranteeing agency partners. Government mortgage insurance gives lenders confidence that they can lend in the communities we are here to serve, and our guaranty gives them the ability to lend at greater scale. We play an important countercyclical role and support the housing market in good times and through stressful periods.
Ginnie Mae has a dual mandate. We not only promote broad and affordable access to credit through our programs, but we support the stability of the secondary market. Our business model is designed such that Ginnie Mae does not take on direct credit risk. An important component of our model is the MBS issuer network and our reliance on their success, strength, and resilience. Today Ginnie Mae has over 360 active single family and multifamily issuers.
As I stand here, Ginnie Mae is in the midst of a massive transformation that will make our business more nimble. We are migrating our state of the art securitization platform to a fully cloud-enabled environment. When our planned business outage ends tomorrow, we will be fully operational in the cloud. This milestone is foundational to the many technological and digital innovations for the future and improves the way we do business with issuers and service providers. This foundation is crucial for the future and to accomplishing our strategic goals. As one example, our digital collateral program is poised for growth and has reached nearly $15 billion in eNotes in the evault in less than 2 years. The program has seen tremendous growth each month. The cloud infrastructure will continue to enable Ginnie Mae innovation as the technologies that support our business evolve.
One of the most important aspects of my job is to ensure we manage risks to the government mortgage programs and that we maintain a stable and equitable housing finance market. The Biden Administration and Secretary Fudge asked me to take on this incredible responsibility to serve America’s housing market and protect taxpayers. I do not take this lightly. I lead our terrific team of public servants at Ginnie Mae and take great care in the decisions we make for the future. I also pride myself and our team on transparency, actively listening, and proactive engagement with the use of evidence and data to guide us. In my two plus decades in housing finance, we’ve experienced historic highs and lows and I have seen this industry weather the most volatile market conditions. Looking back to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, we didn’t know how the markets or households would be impacted, but we worked together to expand liquidity with laser focus on keeping people in their homes and avoiding foreclosures.
Today, we face an unprecedented confluence of market trends. At Ginnie Mae, we understand how these headwinds are creating uncertainty for households and financial institutions alike. The Biden Administration has been focused on all aspects of fighting inflation, while managing what has been one of the strongest economic recoveries we have ever seen post-pandemic. Despite inflation, the country has witnessed continued low unemployment, wage growth, and relatively few foreclosures. As the Federal Reserve continues to address inflation pressures to bring prices down in many sectors, we are feeling the effects in the housing market acutely. In just a few short months, mortgage interest rates have grown to the highest levels we have seen in more than 20 years. This rapid increase in mortgage interest rates has had a direct impact on home purchases and refinances, with some signs of unprecedented year-over-year home price growth finally slowing down in some markets.
As we look ahead and plan for how we each manage through this uncertainty, it's important we reflect on the lessons from our pandemic experience.
When the pandemic first hit, Ginnie Mae instituted the Pass Through Assistance Program, known as PTAP. PTAP was an emergency pandemic program that provided issuers with liquidity assistance for principal and interest advances. Ginnie Mae provided stability at a time when it was greatly needed. Although PTAP was not heavily used thanks to a refinance boom and a record low interest rate environment, Ginnie Mae’s rapid implementation bolstered confidence during a period of unique stress.
Ginnie Mae worked alongside public and private sector partners including the issuer and servicer community to ensure we could manage the pandemic’s impact on the secondary market. We successfully adapted to the moment and introduced new MBS pool types including the Extended Term (ET) for 40 year modifications and Reperforming Ginnie Mae pools (RG).
The pandemic experience showed us all that policymakers and industry can overcome any challenge when we work together. This point is particularly true in government lending. Although Ginnie Mae’s purpose and role are unique, we can only accomplish our mission by working with our agency partners, issuers, and our global investor base.
It is this interdependency that informs our agency priorities and how we manage risk. We are focused on providing clarity to investors and providing liquidity in the secondary mortgage market.
Ginnie Mae’s issuer eligibility requirements are another important risk management tool that helps promote issuer liquidity. These requirements set standards for issuers to meet threshold levels of capital and liquidity to support their business.
The critical role that IMBs play in the government mortgage market cannot be overstated. The makeup of Ginnie Mae’s issuer base is a vastly different profile than we had in 2008. Before the great financial crisis, the overwhelming majority of our issuance came from depositories. The crisis brought great changes to our industry, and with it, a complete shift in our issuer base. Independent mortgage banks now issue more than 90 percent of Ginnie Mae securities each month. IMBs have been an integral part of government lending for more than a decade. The Ginnie Mae program, however, is liquidity intensive. When liquidity needs intensify, independent mortgage bank financing also faces greater strain. Ginnie Mae knows that it is critically important for IMBs to be able to access financing across cycles, because IMBs are on the frontlines every day, making sure new households can achieve homeownership on the lending side and helping struggling borrowers remain in their homes through their servicing role.
The standards we announced in August will enhance market confidence in our issuers across cycles. Because Ginnie Mae is unique, we introduced a Risk Based Capital requirement in our eligibility rules. This requirement was based on evidence from risk analysis and a robust issuer stress testing program and is a prudent step and standard, especially given IMBs growth and integral role in the government mortgage market. The IMB space has not had this type of requirement in the past, and we believe it’s a new and crucial step that will promote long-term stability, given how important MSRs are to IMB balance sheets. Let me be clear: The risk-based capital requirement is about the future. It’s about the long term stability and viability of the government mortgage market.
Although a few observers have raised concerns about our approach to assess IMBs under the risk-based capital framework, Ginnie Mae has received balanced feedback from regulators, lenders, and issuers alike. This framework is a long overdue step to bring us current with the realities of how and who support the mortgage market today.
I know our requirements, particularly the RBC element, has started an important conversation at a really critical time, and it’s been a very healthy conversation for government lending and the system overall. Ginnie Mae intends to continue leading this conversation for the benefit of taxpayers, borrowers, and market participants.
We have been actively engaged with our issuers and stakeholders about the new standards and what they mean for their business models and what the path toward implementation looks like. During the course of this engagement, one thing has become increasingly clear—more time is needed to ensure that we can implement the new standards methodically and for the long term.
This is why last Friday, we announced the 1-year implementation extension for the
Risk Based Capital Requirement to December 31, 2024. It is important to note that the implementation extension is for the Risk Based Capital requirement only. All the other liquidity and net worth requirements remain unchanged from the original announcement. More details can be found on ginniemae.gov.
Our updated standards will strengthen the sustainability of the MBS ecosystem, promote durable access to credit for the underserved, and protect borrowers from volatility in the mortgage markets over the long term.
Let me turn to some other critical items our issuers are facing as I prepare to close.
As I said earlier, Ginnie Mae is always looking at ways to enhance liquidity through our current programs.
To preserve the value proposition of Ginnie Mae MBS during an environment of unprecedented market support by the Federal Reserve MBS purchase program through the pandemic, we instituted the Reperforming Ginnie Mae pools, or RG. RG pools allowed issuers to place reperforming loans into custom pools, as long as they met certain requirements, supporting their ability to perform loss mitigation and preserving the investment value proposition of our TBA securities.
During the past several months, we have engaged with a variety of stakeholders regarding our RG Pool program. We have received many questions about the future of the RG program and feedback on the complexities associated with these pools, especially in this rising rate environment. The early buyout activity during the pandemic has largely subsided given the higher interest rate environment and the transition in delinquencies. So, I urged my team to think hard about how we can give the market clarity on the future of this pandemic-era program.
I’m pleased to announce that by the end of the first quarter of 2023, Ginnie Mae will be changing our policy and requirements for these reperforming loan pools, making RG pooling optional.
In the first quarter of next year, we will shorten the seasoning requirement from 6 months to 3 months and allow issuers the option to re-pool into our Ginnie Mae II Single-Family TBA Multi-Issuer pools. A press release just went out about the planned RG program changes, and we will be releasing more details in an All Participants Memo (APM) soon.
If you take one thing away from my remarks today, let it be this: The past several years have made clear that we can overcome any challenge when we work collaboratively and in good faith. We are going to work through this cycle together, and I am committed to working together with all of you to strengthen our industry so we can endure and continue to support the many households that face the biggest affordable housing challenges of our time.
The Biden Administration, Ginnie Mae, and our government partners are here to support stability in the mortgage and housing market, tackle the tough issues, and work with you to make sure that all Americans can access and maintain their stake in affordable, safe housing.
I look forward to your questions.
At FHFA and Ginnie Mae Listening Session Regarding Minimum Financial Eligibility
Requirements for Single-Family MBS Issuers
April 25, 2022
Good afternoon. It is my pleasure to co-host this listening event with my friend and colleague Acting Director Sandra Thompson. The housing finance world has undergone a remarkable evolution since the global financial crisis of 2008, including in the composition of who performs the all-important mortgage lending and servicing functions. Ginnie Mae and FHFA, as well as the Conference of State Bank Supervisors, have invested a great deal of time and effort contemplating these necessary changes within government, and today’s session is another example of this — ensuring key stakeholder concerns are heard and discussed. I really appreciate everyone who has joined today and those who will speak to their concerns and the impacts of policy in this space.
Our current issuer eligibility requirements are a useful tool in promoting successful participation in Ginnie Mae’s mortgage-backed securities (MBS) program. Today, with the knowledge gained through our ongoing monitoring of our issuers, our own liquidity risk mitigation efforts in response to the pandemic, and other modeling and analysis, we have determined that Ginnie Mae’s issuer eligibility requirements must be enhanced, not only to protect the program and create resiliency during adverse market conditions, but also, to ensure the stability of the Ginnie Mae MBS marketplace for generations to come.
As the team undertook this initiative, several core principles were embraced:
We believe we have achieved these three key objectives. Our proposed new eligibility requirements that will ultimately be released will achieve three other important goals:
This is naturally a subject of which issuers will have strong opinions, and we appreciate their input. Some brief comments on the risk-based capital portion of our proposed requirements:
Nevertheless, there are some areas where the feedback on our proposal was compelling and will have an influence as we work to adjust our proposal. We deeply appreciate all those who took the time to provide thoughtful submissions in response to the Ginnie Mae request for input last year and we have taken time to carefully review and fully analyze various scenarios as well as the larger context in which we are working alongside FHFA. This effort has taken time, but it was really important, and Secretary Fudge and I want to be sure all the considerations and priorities are appropriately considered and that our fundamental commitment to the Administration’s goal of ensuring equity in our housing finance system is reflected in our policy.
Through our ongoing dialogue with industry stakeholders, including our work with FHFA, I am confident that Ginnie Mae will arrive at final enhancements that encourage issuers to engage in higher levels of capital and liquidity planning and governance and consider all lines of an issuer’s business model, contemplating both origination and servicing activities and risks. As we work towards finalizing our eligibility requirements, we will continue to study event-driven risks and refine our issuer stress testing analytical framework.
My remarks this afternoon would be incomplete without placing emphasis on the critical mission of Ginnie Mae. Since its inception in 1968, Ginnie Mae has made affordable housing a reality for millions of Americans by ensuring liquidity and stability to the government insured programs that serve some of the most underserved populations in our country as well as critical segments of consumers including seniors, veterans, and tribes — and doing so while protecting taxpayers. Ginnie Mae is the only federal agency tasked with the administration and oversight of an explicit full-faith and credit guaranty on MBS. For our insuring and guarantying agency partners — including FHA, the VA, USDA’s Rural Housing Service and HUD’s Public and Indian Housing — we are the only game in town.
Our legacy is that, even in difficult times, an investment in Ginnie Mae MBS has proven to be one of the safest an investor can make, as evidenced by the global investor demand for these securities. Our stewardship of this legacy, and responsibility to all our stakeholders, is always at the forefront of our decisioning and risk management approach and has been front and center for me since I became President of Ginnie Mae in December.
With that in mind, I am grateful for this opportunity to listen to feedback from our stakeholders and to work closely with our sister agency, FHFA, to advance this important work.
Nominee for President, Government National Mortgage Association Before the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs United States Senate July 24, 2018
Chairman Crapo, Ranking Member Brown, and distinguished members of this committee, thank you for inviting me here today. It is an honor to appear before you as the nominee to be the President of the Government National Mortgage Association, or Ginnie Mae.
Let me take a moment to quickly thank my family who is here. I’m joined by my wife, Maggie, and my son, Mac. My daughter Margaux, who is 5, is at her grandparent’s house in Florida, probably watching on the computer. All 3 of them have been incredibly supportive of me since coming to Washington, and that comes despite the many nights of coming home tired, grumpy, and distracted with work. I know that I ask a lot of them, and I am always thankful for their love and support.
In addition to being a father, for the past twelve months it has been my honor to serve as the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Ginnie Mae. I’d like to tell you a little about what I have learned, and what I think still needs to be done.
Ginnie Mae was created in 1968 when Congress spun off Fannie Mae as a government-sponsored private company and retained Ginnie as a complimentary government corporation given the task of facilitating the securitization of certain mortgages with an explicit, transparent, and paid for government guarantee. Ginnie Mae has since evolved into a $2 trillion government security with a focus on facilitating lending to low and moderate income, rural, urban, and veteran borrowers.
Today, Ginnie Mae’s bond and Ginnie Mae’s brand are globally recognized as the most pristine mortgage security in the world. This is because of Ginnie Mae’s track record of success and our robust process for ensuring the timely payment of principal and interest to security holders. Ginnie Mae has never missed a payment in its 50 years of existence, even during the financial crisis. That is exactly what an explicit government guarantee is meant to provide and delivering on that mission is what we do every single day.
The day job of managing the roughly 150 employees of Ginnie Mae has been an incredibly rewarding experience for me over the past year. Ginnie has some of the most dedicated, knowledgeable, and mission-focused professionals I have ever worked with. They are squarely focused on the challenges of dealing with both Ginnie’s growth and the evolving nature of the U.S. mortgage market.
To address these challenges, over the past twelve months we have launched a modernization campaign called “Ginnie Mae 2020,” a three-year strategic plan that will have our data centers running on cutting edge technology, realign our counterparty risk management framework, help bring in additional financing for mortgage servicing rights, and expand our global investor base through outreach and education in dozens of countries around the globe. All these efforts are well under way, some are even nearing completion, and we are very excited about the promise they hold for the future of our organization.
One issue I have worked with many of you on this past year is that of so-called “VA loan churning,” or the rapid refinancing of VA loans with little or no benefit to the borrower, as well as the making of VA loans at interest rates higher than a veteran should be getting. I want to specifically thank Senators Tillis and Warren for their leadership on this issue. Between the work we have done administratively at Ginnie as well as the language recently passed into law, we have taken a major step towards rooting out behavior that was threatening the very viability of the Ginnie security, and thereby threatening the viability of the VA, USDA, and FHA programs we support. We will not tolerate this behavior, and we now know that Congress stands with us. Collectively, our efforts are working. We can already see that in the form of a better security price, which directly translates into lower rates for FHA, VA, and USDA borrowers.
I didn’t begin my career in Washington. I came here after working in my twenties on mortgage trading desks in Los Angeles and Charlotte, including through the financial crisis. During that time, I learned thousands of lessons that I place into two thematic buckets: First, I learned that the mortgage market is incredibly technical and enormously complex. I feel honored to be able to use the technical knowledge I gained to serve a broader public policy mission that benefits all Americans. Second, I learned that greed and unbridled ambition can be dangerous realities, and if left unchecked in the housing market, the consequences can be disastrous. I came to Washington in large part to help ensure we never repeat the 2008 financial crisis, and I wake up every day with that mindset still.
I also want to say thank you to the members and staff that I have been privileged to work with in the past, most especially Senator Corker. Working with Senator Corker, Senator Warner, Senator Crapo, and other members of this committee as a staffer was a tremendous honor and an experience I still think about every single day.
Going forward, my main goals for Ginnie Mae are to ensure that the agency is well run, and that the agency can continue to serve its statutory obligations to help ensure a stable U.S. housing market. There is much to be done, and I look forward to the task.
Ginnie Mae SummitArlington, VirginiaSeptember 21, 2015
Welcome to Ginnie Mae’s 2015 Summit!
It’s great to see so many people here at our third Summit. This event has grown each year -- both in importance to the industry and in the number of attendees. This year we have about 700 people – our largest crowd ever.
And it’s truly international group. We have representatives here this morning from the British Embassy as well as the Chinese and Japanese governments. To them I say: o’hayou and nǐhǎo. So thank you for being here. Thank you for being our partner.
We have a great program in store for you – from workshops covering everything going on at Ginnie Mae – to the big issues facing our industry. We look forward to your feedback. Everyone here today, particularly if you are a Ginnie Mae Issuer -- has been a part of the biggest transformation in the history of mortgage finance.
The theme of the conference this year is “game changers.”
Ginnie Mae was actually created based on the idea that the environment would stay static — that the game would NOT change.
Our infrastructure, including our small staff, was based on the premise that the MBS program would never change. All we really needed to do was keep the assembly line running. But TODAY, almost nothing we do would work on an assembly line.
You have probably heard me talk about the massive shift in our issuer base --to independent mortgage bankers. New business models for managing mortgage servicing rights. Layer upon layer of confusing and conflicting regulations. And a more prominent FHA and VA.
These things and more have changed the game for all of us.
We work every day because we know that having a home is the ultimate game changer in the lives of the American people.
So again, thank you for being our partner.
This morning I want to look ahead, and talk about how we are meeting the challenges I just referenced.
But first, let’s take a minute to look back -- at what we have accomplished together in the past five years.
These are impressive achievements. Together we made a difference!
So, things are going well. Mark Zandi will tell you later today that we are in the “SWEET SPOT” What could possibly go wrong? Well, now it is the time in my speech when I introduce the word “BUT.” Are you ready?
Yes, we’ve had great success - - BUT if Ginnie Mae’s resource challenges are not addressed, we have to slow down that assembly line.
Here’s why. Five years ago, Ginnie Mae was like the little engine that could, churning along with a business model designed for issuers that were mostly large or regional banks. They had strong and simple balance sheets, financial structures that were relatively simple, yet even in that environment, Ginnie Mae could barely keep up with just 60 employees. Our engine was huffing and puffing and it was definitely struggling.
Many of you know what has happened since then. Our issuer base has doubled. Today almost two thirds of Ginnie Mae guaranteed securities are issued by independent mortgage banks. And independent mortgage bankers are using some of the most sophisticated financial engineering that this industry has ever seen.
We are also seeing greater dependence on credit lines, securitization involving multiple players, and more frequent trading of servicing rights -- all these things have created a new and challenging environment for Ginnie Mae.
Frankly, as we look forward to the future, I do not believe that we have a large enough engine to deal with the steep hill in front of us.
In other words, the risk is a lot higher and business models of our issuers are a lot more complex. Add in sharply higher annual volumes, and these risks are amplified many times over.
To confront this level of enhanced risk, we simply must become a different organization. Right now, we are doing the best we can with what we have – but the challenges keep growing.
Our budget, which stands at $23 million for salaries and expenses, simply does not allow us to make the changes needed to keep pace with the transformation that has occurred in the industry. We are managing a $1.6 trillion portfolio of outstanding guarantees. On a monthly basis, we are doing more business than either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.
Yet we are operating with infrastructure and platforms that sometimes remind me of the military’s use of pontoon bridges – temporary structures that are cobbled together to deal with unexpected obstacles or challenges.
Also, we have depended on sheer luck. Luck that the economy does not fall into recession and increase mortgage delinquencies. Luck that our independent mortgage bankers remain able to access their lines of credit. And luck that nothing critical falls through the cracks.
If you think about the impact that Ginnie Mae has -- in the mortgage finance industry, and on the economy at large, it is too important to leave any part of it to luck. Instead, we need to face up to the challenges presented by the new environment.
Fortunately, we’ve got a plan to do just that.
A security that preserves our guarantee, which makes the 30-year mortgage possible, BUT puts the government in the most remote position of risk. A common security that creates what some have called the ultimate level playing field. And one that attracts broad and diverse mortgage investors, both here and abroad. An operating securitization platform that is flexible and durable enough to handle fluctuations in the mortgage market, but provides standard data to investors that they can trust. And a business model where private capital gets the most reward, but also bears most of the risk.
That’s our vision for the future -- a future we will have together. It can create game changers in the lives of the people we serve.
However, whether we have the resources to implement this vision is not entirely up to us. The reality is that we depend on Congress to support the increased funding required to implement this vision.
Currently, our budget request of just $5 million additional dollars, has been denied by Congress. This is in spite of the fact that we don’t use a dime of taxpayer money. In fact, last year we made $1.5 billion in profit, and on average have generated an annual profit of more than $900 million for the U.S. Treasury over the past five years.
We realize that the industry is currently grappling with an uncertain regulatory environment that is challenging to say the least. We don’t want to create additional obstacles, but Ginnie Mae has to do SOMETHING.
So in the coming weeks and months we will make announcements about the steps that we will be taking until our staffing situation improves. But even so, I am still focused on a favorable outcome. Together I believe we can continue to make a difference.
The alternative would be to remove the opportunity for affordable mortgage finance from millions of people because Ginnie Mae has to back away from the market.
For almost 50 years, Ginnie Mae has served the mortgage markets well. We have introduced historic innovations, such as the mortgage-backed security. We have weathered many a storm as business cycles come and go, including the Great Recession, perhaps the biggest threat to the mortgage finance industry since the Great Depression. Together we made sure that, even during the worst times, qualified borrowers could still get a mortgage.
In fact, I sometimes wonder if the interruption was so minor that it obscured the challenges that I have talked about today - -We might have made it look too easy.
Through it all Ginnie Mae has persevered. And what has remained steady through all of this change and upheaval is that we’ve always met our two primary responsibilities:
1) maintaining our common securitization platform; and,
2) protecting the government guarantee.
1) maintaining our common securitization platform; and,
2) protecting the government guarantee.
Today, I believe we are at a crossroads in the history of housing finance in America.
The decisions made by Congress, policy makers and many of us in this room will have consequences for millions of people – homeowners, renters, and people in assisted living. For veterans who depend upon what we do in order to access a benefit that they have earned by defending our country. Because ultimately we are deciding whether our programs will serve the many – or just a select few.
To me, making sure that people have access to affordable mortgage credit, well, that is the ultimate game changer.
Thank you again for coming, and I hope that you enjoy the rest of the Summit.
Thank you for the generous introduction. It’s great to see many friends again. Three years ago, I spoke at your conference in Macau – thank you professor Rose Lai for inviting me there – and, of course, I want to thank Doctors Jian Chen and Tyler Yang for inviting me to address you today.
On behalf of Ginnie Mae – welcome to Washington D.C. , our nation’s capital. Thank you for honoring us with your presence and your continued interest in our mortgage finance system and our secondary market.
The Global Chinese Real Estate Congress is such a diverse and distinguished group. It is a premier platform for scholars, private developers and government officials to share current issues and future challenges.
It is my pleasure to follow my friend and colleague Dr. Ed Golding this morning. Dr. Golding and I each represent important agencies for advancing housing in the United States and we share many priorities and concerns.
A vibrant and innovative housing finance system is the cornerstone of economic prosperity in the United States … and it can be for Asia, as well.
I believe that our nations share a common interest in looking for ways to ensure safe and quality housing for all of our people.
“The American Dream” of home ownership is an aspiration for all Americans whether they live in our cities, towns or farms. This dream crosses borders and continents . . . economic structures and political ideologies.
Today, I want to discuss some of the history of U.S. government involvement in housing, the creation of a secondary market, and the TBA – “To Be Announced” market, which was started to facilitate the trading of Ginnie Mae MBS, and is critical to the success of the American housing finance system and the 30-year mortgage.
I will talk about Ginnie Mae’s two primary roles – running a single security platform and protecting the explicit government guarantee that is crucial to the existence of the 30-year mortgage market. We will also examine how market factors like our changing issuer base are affecting how we do business.
An important point to remember is that the Ginnie Mae model levels the playing field for all our issuers, because all use the same security. As the types of issuers using the model have changed and the volume of securities trading has more than doubled -- we are revising our risk management procedures and modernizing the single security platform technology. And we’ll talk more about that a little later......
First – let’s take a look at some of the events that have shaped the American housing finance system. History has shown that home ownership builds wealth over time, promotes stable communities, improves schools and encourages civic involvement.
Those are among the most important reasons the United States government has a prominent role in promoting an affordable and stable housing finance system that can weather economic and financial storms.
It wasn’t always the case that our housing markets could survive severe economic downturns. Once, the U.S. relied totally on the banking sector for mortgage finance … but that proved disastrous. Today, the key to our success in building the world’s strongest and most innovative housing finance program is a countercyclical system that relies on a public-private partnership with industry and government working together to help smooth out the booms and busts of housing cycles. A vibrant secondary market is essential to this system.
As important as government involvement is to the mortgage finance system, government should never crowd out or create unfair competition with the private capital upon which the entire system ultimately depends.
Let me begin by taking you back nearly 100 years, to a time just after the end of the first World War.
Back then homes were financed primarily by banks that specialized in mortgage lending, called Savings & Loans, which used deposits to fund balloon loans with maturities from three to five years. Loans were generally capped at loan to value of 50 percent.
In prosperous times, the requirement to refinance or repay mortgage debt within five years was simple to meet. Cities were growing . . . home prices were rising . . . and jobs were plentiful. The stock market crash on October 29, 1929, changed everything, triggering “The Great Depression.”
Overnight, jobs vanished. Borrowers couldn’t repay loans. Home prices depreciated by half. Depositors made runs on banks.
Without sufficient deposits, balloon mortgages couldn’t be refinanced … even if the home owner still had a job. The banking system became insolvent. Millions of Americans lost their homes to foreclosure. /p>
The Great Depression led to the election of President Franklin Roosevelt. Soon after taking office, his administration created the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation and the Reconstruction Finance Corporation to liquidate nonperforming loans in bank portfolios, and to bail out lending institutions that were insolvent.
But the most dramatic intervention came with the passage of the 1934 National Housing Act. It created the Federal Housing Administration, or FHA, to provide insurance against mortgage defaults for lenders. FHA’s program successfully integrated the 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage with low down payments to home buyers.
Later, Congress chartered Fannie Mae as a government-owned agency to become an investor for FHA-insured loans. In reality, Fannie Mae basically acted as a large portfolio manager.
As the economic cycle again shifted from bust to boom following the end of World War II, the housing-finance system stabilized and the private sector again took precedence in investing in mortgages. Interest rates were low, Savings & Loans were again growing, and commercial banks increased their presence in the mortgage market. Meanwhile, demand for government-insured loans dwindled.
The federal government privatized Fannie Mae in 1968 – both to reduce the need for the government to purchase mortgages and to spur private investment in the asset. The newly private firm was allowed to purchase loans not insured by the government – so-called “conventional loans.”
The role of creating a program to securitize mortgage loans was assumed by my agency, the Government National Mortgage Association – more commonly known as Ginnie Mae.
Ginnie Mae is not a GSE – as are Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It is a wholly owned government corporation. At the heart of our success, as well as the success of the entire secondary market, is the mortgage-backed security, or MBS which our issuers use to issue bonds on our single security platform that many say is the ultimate level playing field because it treats all issuers the same.
In 1970, it was Ginnie Mae who guaranteed the issuance of the world’s first MBS, which allowed many loans to be pooled and used as collateral in a security that could be sold in the secondary market. With the full faith and credit of the United States behind it, Ginnie Mae guarantees the timely payment of principal and interest to security investors of MBS which are issued on our single security platform and collateralized by loans insured by FHA, VA and the Rural Housing Service.
It was the creation of a standardized MBS that revolutionized mortgage finance in America. It broadened the investor base while separating credit risk from interest-rate risk. Moreover, MBS came of age at an opportune time as economic conditions deteriorated once more in the 1970s.
Over the next two decades, the housing finance system faced twin threats of rising inflation and climbing interest rates – threats set in motion by higher government deficits and oil shocks that sent energy costs soaring.
Higher interest rates severely punished Savings & Loans and Fannie Mae because they relied on short-term deposits to fund their long-term, fixed-rate mortgages. Suddenly, banks were paying higher interest rates to attract deposits than they were earning on their existing portfolio of mortgages. Thousands of Savings and Loans became insolvent and had to close. In 1980, Fannie Mae was losing a million dollars a day from mismatched duration of assets and liabilities.
It was a seminal moment in the history of U.S. housing finance.
If not for the utilization of MBS to raise funds for mortgages from the world’s capital markets, the 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage would have died along with the Savings & Loan industry. But the creation of a standardized MBS and, in particular, MBS guaranteed by Ginnie Mae, enabled the housing industry to recover from the loss of so many bank investors and preserved access to long-term, fixed-rate mortgages. Fannie Mae issued its first MBS 10 years after Ginnie Mae – to sell its mismatched mortgage portfolio into the capital markets.
The creation of the MBS market transformed the U.S. housing finance system.
For instance, since its peak years in the early 1970s, commercial banks and savings institutions now play only a limited role in owning mortgages. Today, more than 60 percent of mortgage debt outstanding in the U.S. is securitized in mortgage-backed bonds.
The key to this successful transition is the so-called TBA market, made possible by the standardized and common MBS, mentioned earlier. The TBA market is so crucial to the entire mortgage finance system in this country, that the fear of disrupting this market has proved a barrier to housing finance reform – because anything that disrupts trading – even for a short time could disrupt the entire marketplace.
Without the TBA market, lenders would not be able to lock in loan applications prior to actually originating loans and borrowers could not lock in interest rates.
To give you an idea of how the TBA market creates liquidity for mortgage-backed securities, consider these numbers:
As of the 3rd quarter of 2013, the total amount of MBS guaranteed by Ginnie Mae, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac totaled $5.3 trillion. That’s a little less than the $7.7 trillion in corporate bonds and a bit more than the $3.6 trillion of municipal bonds outstanding at the same time.
But the magic of TBA enabled the daily trading volume of MBS to far surpass either of those other securities. Agency MBS averaged $178 billion in daily trading, while corporate bonds were $20 billion and munis just $10 billion. That extraordinary liquidity makes Agency MBS second only to US Treasuries in attractiveness to investors and keeps prices low for home borrowers.
Ginnie Mae’s flexible model and single securitization platform has proven its ability to respond in both up and down markets. This was never so evident than during 2006 through 2012.
Housing prices peaked in early 2006, and then began a steady decline, reaching new lows in 2012. On December 30, 2008, the Case-Shiller home price index reported its largest price drop in its history. The credit crisis resulting from the bursting of the housing bubble is—according to general consensus—the primary cause of the Great Recession – another turning point in the United States housing finance system.
During this time investors in US and around the world sought quality and safety in instruments such as Ginnie Mae securities. The beneficiaries of this flight to quality were American homeowners who experienced the lowest mortgage rates in history.
For the last several years the market has been steadily recovering, and the demand for MBS issued off the Ginnie Mae platform remains solid.
In some ways this is due to the emergence of new entities that occupy the space once dominated by traditional banks. These new entities show no sign of retreating from the marketplace. Traditional banks have continued to exit the mortgage origination and servicing space, due in some part to the proliferation of regulations that emerged after the crisis. Because they are not depository institutions, the new institutions are not subject to banking supervision.
The transition of the market is evidenced in the growth in outstanding Ginnie Mae guaranteed MBS.
It took 40 years for the amount of mortgage-backed securities guaranteed by Ginnie Mae to reach $1 trillion in 2010. Just four years later, the total had grown to $1.5 trillion.
Our ability to attract domestic and global capital is essential to our ability to facilitate affordable housing finance options for those seeking home ownership, affordable rental housing, assisted living, and senior citizens seeking to remain in their homes. We estimate that about 40 percent of investors in Ginnie Mae MBS are offshore.
As we’ve noted here, Ginnie Mae has proven its value in the marketplace. Our model is flexible and generic. It allows the new entrants to flourish in a market that was not working.
However, the growth is not without cost, and that cost is largely in the growing complexity of monitoring the issuers of Ginnie Mae securities. As we noted earlier, one of Ginnie Mae’s primary roles is to make sure that the issuers of Ginnie Mae securities can make their “pass through” payments to investors.
In the past, when a majority of Ginnie Mae MBS were issued by depository institutions such as Wells Fargo, JP Morgan Chase and Bank of America, the job of monitoring our issuers was much easier, and much of it was done by regulators. In the last two years depositories have been replaced by non-depository institutions not overseen by federal prudential regulators such as the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency or the FDIC. Companies such as Quicken, PennyMac and Freedom Mortgage are the new powerhouses in home lending and securitization.
While the addition of these firms has enhanced competition, broadened the availability of credit and reduced concentration risk for Ginnie Mae it also stresses our capacity to monitor and mitigate risk of these new entrants.
As we noted, the new entrants are very different than banks, and the risks they pose are different. While we welcome these new entrants, because we know that they are providing much needed capital which translates into credit availability – we have a larger and more complex job than we once did. Like most federal agencies, Ginnie Mae must ask Congress for appropriated funds to hire full time staff. Limiting our ability to increase staff to cover the new responsibilities I’ve outlined.
Without additional staff, we will need to take steps to significantly mitigate our risk which could include limiting new Issuers or boosting our capital and liquidity standards in order to protect American taxpayers.
However, no matter which steps we choose to mitigate risk, the end result is likely to be constriction of credit for borrowers. In turn, that may have severe ramifications for the U.S. – and the world – since the housing market is such an important engine for our economy. In addition, it would reduce the investment options of global investors who turn to Ginnie Mae-backed securities for safety and yield.
I believe it can all be avoided if Congress just allocates the necessary funds for Ginnie Mae staff needs.
I know that my concerns are shared by industry groups and consumer advocates throughout the U.S. who have joined me in appealing for additional staff resources.
Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you this morning. We share similar goals of creating vibrant and affordable housing markets for our economies and we can learn much from one another from these types of dialogues. Have a great conference and I look forward to visiting with you again.
Remarks by Ted Tozer, President of Ginnie MaeMBA National Secondary Market ConferenceNew York CityMay 19, 2015
It’s great to be here today, and to be a part of this great industry – particularly at such a dynamic time in a market that is changing and innovating at a pace we’ve never experienced before.
That’s why I’m here today: To explore with you the striking changes we are all seeing in government-backed lending. Indeed, the tipping point has already occurred thanks to new players in mortgage finance Industry.
Ginnie Mae sees the development itself as being simply the appropriate functioning of the free market. We are heartened and grateful, in fact, to see the extent to which private capital sees opportunity in mortgage servicing rights – because it takes a lot of qualified capacity to service $1.5 trillion in MBS.
Not only that, but the new entrants are creating innovation in the marketplace that is welcome. Even more important for the market – they are creating more competition.
From where I sit, the more competition there is, the less chance there is of “too big to fail” situation occurring. This slide gives a few of the benefits these new players create:
While market participants are changing, Ginnie Mae’s priorities remain the same. Our number one concern is still making sure the Issuers of our guaranteed MBS have the operational and financial strength to meet their debt obligations to bond holders.
We constantly assess the ability of our Issuers:
It also means ensuring our Issuers have sufficient capital, and most important of all, that our Issuers have enough liquidity to make advances to bond holders when loans become delinquent.
From our vantage point, that’s pretty similar to what regulators do.
That’s not well understood. Often, people lump Ginnie Mae in with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, thinking that what GSEs do in the secondary market for conventional loans, Ginnie Mae does for government loans.
Sure, the GSE and Ginnie Mae guarantee MBS. But we have different levels of protection before our capital is at risk including homeowner equity and credit enhancement purchased for the issuers benefit and in Ginnie Mae’s case 100 percent of the Issuers capital.
But that’s about where the similarities end.
Unlike the GSEs, Ginnie Mae is neither the security issuer nor the master servicer. It is our approved financial institutions – we call them “Issuers” because just like Fannie and Freddie, they issue MBS. GSEs function like Ginnie Mae Issuers. And it is our Issuers’ performance that we are guaranteeing to investors. The difference is Ginnie Mae oversees the Financial and Operational soundness of our Issuers to protect the government guarantee. We perform that role similar to the way the FDIC oversees banks to protect its guarantee on deposits.
While the market has been changing over the last few years, it is only that in the last year we’ve all realized that we are in a new market environment.
Ginnie Mae has experienced significant growth in the number of our Issuers since I became President in 2010.
Without their entrance into the market, we could have experienced a 33 percent decline in credit availability because of reduced Issuance of Ginnie Mae Guaranteed MBS between 2010 and today. The engine behind this growth is the new entrants, as this next chart demonstrates.
Rather than declining, we’ve experienced remarkable growth in MBS guaranteed. It took four decades for our outstanding GUARANTEES TO reach $1 Trillion. It took just four more years for it to reach $1.5 Trillion.So I will say it again: having new Ginnie Mae issuers is good news; having more Issues is even better. And we want as many Issuers as possible that can be successful in our program.What we are focused on, then, are the implications of the trend. The primary implications arise from elements that are for the most part new, and have to do largely with the way the emerging institutions are financed. They are structured, and they fund their operations, in ways that are more complex and not as well tested as more traditional approaches. These characteristics in turn could have an impact how these institutions perform under stress. An example of this is our Acknowledgement Agreement, by which Ginnie Mae MSRs are allowed to be pledged as collateral in a financing. Acknowledgement agreements are designed to reduce Ginnie Mae’s risk while increasing liquidity for our Issuers. Their creation demonstrates our commitment to keeping these new entrants competitive. But if Ginnie Mae doesn’t have sufficient resources to manage the agreements, it could actually increase our risks. Like the financial structure of many new entrants, Ginnie Mae’s risk assessment challenges are more complex than ever before.For instance, in the case of those acknowledgment agreements, we think the liquidity they help add to the housing finance system will help reduce the possibility of issuer failure. We will therefore continue to invest resources in supporting their use. But as use and demand for the agreements become more sophisticated, we are becoming more rigorous in how we assess individual requests. Moreover, the approval process for acknowledgement agreements will take longer with insufficient resources.
Of Course, acknowledgment agreements aren’t the only financing tools we monitor. Issuers are using a variety of tools to build capital and liquidity and cutting-edge innovators are slicing and dicing servicing duties in ever-new ways. For Ginnie Mae, the challenge is that examining these new risks is not part of our historical practices. We are working to fully develop the infrastructure to do so.
We are making strides to get a better handle on our Issuers to ensure the integrity of the Ginnie Mae security. Last year, we tightened capital and increased liquidity standards; this year, we launched our Issuer Operational Performance Profile – or I.O.P.P – to help Issuers see how they stack up with their competitors; and we are considering seeking more frequent financial information from our Issuers in an effort to help mitigate risk and enhance transparency. But to accomplish all of this will take a significant increase in resources.And that’s another challenge altogether.Our staff at Ginnie Mae is small but our staffing needs are large and getting larger for the reasons I’ve outlined today.
And no matter the amount of profits we return to Treasury each year – and our profits have averaged over 900 million dollars the past 5 years – our funding for staff comes from congressional appropriations. This would be a good time for me to note how appreciative Ginnie Mae is of the support MBA has actively and publicly provided on our behalf for additional funding.So what happens if our funding remains flat? What does this mean for Ginnie Mae? What does this mean for you and our Issuers?Our team must be prepared to answer those questions in the very near future if our funding needs do not keep up with changes in the industry. I don’t have an answer for you today but we will take whatever steps are necessary to ensure our guarantee and protect American taxpayers from losses that could come as a result of insufficient oversight of risks.Let me end on a positive note. Together, Ginnie Mae and mortgage bankers kept the dream of home ownership alive for American homebuyers during the worst financial crisis of our lifetimes. You turned to Ginnie Mae when other sources of capital vanished and we, in turn, opened our doors to many innovative new entrants to keep the market flush with liquidity.
In that same spirit, let’s move forward to tackle new challenges, to meet the needs of tomorrow’s home buyers, and to help secure a solid financial future for all Americans … in our cities … in rural areas … and for our veterans.
Remarks by Michael Drayne, Senior Vice President, Office of Issuer & Portfolio Management, Ginnie Mae
2013 Mortgage Bankers Association Secondary Market Conference & Expo"RMBS Servicing and the Housing Recovery"
Tuesday, May 07, 2013New York, NY
Servicing underlies our mission of bringing capital from all over the world into the housing finance system in this country. The total of the outstanding single-family Ginnie Mae mortgage-backed securities right now is about $1.4 trillion. That means there is about $1.4 trillion in servicing rights supporting that outstanding MBS. We need to have a universe of mortgage servicers that are up to the task and able to fulfill their responsibilities under our program.
The way see servicing at the moment is very much focused on a significant and interesting transformation taking place in the market right now. To put it in context and give some numbers, we think that about a third of the $1.4 trillion in the Ginnie Mae portfolio—the ownership of those servicing rights— will be changing hands over a three-year period, starting in mid-2011 to the middle of next year. That’s a huge change for the Ginnie Mae program. That’s an enormous amount of servicing rights to change ownership. It’s not simply that the ownership is changing, but the new owners of the servicing rights are largely institutions that are new to Ginnie Mae, or new to servicing, or new to the industry as a whole. Managing that change is something that is consuming a lot of our thinking and a lot of our resources right now.
There are a lot of interesting aspects to that. We’re, of course, concerned with basic questions, such as: Do these entities have the competence? Do they have the financial resources to fulfill their function in the Ginnie Mae program? We’re certainly aware that by and large the new owners of servicing rights are non-depositories, whereas, the great bulk of Ginnie Mae servicing had been held by depositories for a long time. A lot of these newer entities have a background in more specialized parts of servicing—or their staff does—and they portray themselves as being more able in areas such as default servicing than some of the megabank servicers have been. That’s another aspect — servicing is sorting itself out in ways that permit a more specialized focus.
There are two key objectives that we have in managing this transformation and the Ginnie Mae program as a whole. One of them is, very simply, we just don’t want failures. Our role is to guarantee that the mortgage-backed security holders will be paid no matter what. We want to make sure that servicers that are overseeing the administration of the pools will be able to make these payments. In some ways, we at Ginnie Mae live in a very simple world, and everything we do revolves around making sure we are taking all the steps and performing the due diligence and monitoring that we can to make sure there aren’t failures.
The second thing we care a lot about is related to that. We want there to be a liquid market for our servicing rights. We have a number of reasons for caring very passionately about that. One is that we want to continue to attract hundreds of billions of dollars into the housing finance system. As I described, what makes that possible is to have servicers that are willing to hold those servicing rights. If there’s a liquid market, and servicers know that if their circumstances change there will be someone else willing to hold those servicing rights, that will make people more willing to participate in the market.
The other, more parochial, reason we care a lot about the liquidity of the market is that if there is a failure, if there is an Issuer of ours that is not able to fulfill its obligations, we would rather there be somebody else that is willing and able to take on those responsibilities immediately, rather than have Ginnie Mae take them on. It’s a strategic initiative of ours to develop other avenues for dealing with default situations than what Ginnie has historically done — take possession of the servicing rights. We did that with the TBW default in 2009. It’s an enormous, time-consuming exercise that doesn’t play to our core strengths. We just prefer someone else do that. To the extent there’s a liquid market for Ginnie Mae servicing rights, that helps us. In the next couple of years, you’re going to see us devote ourselves to doing whatever we can to identify other parties that could take on servicing rights in distress situations and make it easy for them to do it.
That’s really what we’re about. A lot of the more specialized issues that I think the panel will talk about this afternoon are of interest to us, but we really look at them through that narrow lens. For example, the question of servicing compensation — there are lots of interesting viewpoints one could have. It’s a complicated issue in a lot of ways. The main thing Ginnie Mae cares about though is that we want servicers to be compensated at a fair level for what they do. If servicers feel like the compensation is too thin, they’re going to be a lot less likely to take on a Ginnie Mae portfolio at a time when we want there to be a liquid market and we want them to take on a Ginnie Mae portfolio. That’s an example of how, in these areas having to do with policy that governs mortgage servicing, our viewpoint is tied to the health of the Ginnie Mae program.
I think Ginnie Mae is unusual in that, while we are completely a governmental entity (we are administered through the Department of Housing and Urban Development), we are an independent government-owned corporation, and we have a commercial focus. For the health of the Ginnie program, we really need servicing in this country to be a profitable endeavor that people want to take part in. If servicers have a hard time making a reasonable amount of money for the services they provide, it’s not good for us because we have this gigantic portfolio that’s growing and will need to be serviced. We need to pay attention to the market and the liquidity of the market and try to inform the policy debate in order to make sure we are going to have a servicing industry that can stand us and homeowners in good stead for a long time to come.
Moderator: How do you see this new regulatory burden affecting the industry?
Drayne: A lot of the new applicants we see in the Ginnie Mae program who want to become servicers are fairly small shops choosing to come in by using a sub-servicer, which is fine in theory and fine with Ginnie Mae. But it means there are a lot of people trying to play this game who weren’t trying to play this game before, and they’re essentially outsourcing the need to invest in regulatory compliance or systems to a pretty small number of other entities. And that’s not necessarily a bad trend in and of itself, but it’s something we’re watching closely. I think the whole industry should watch closely. Is this going to work with lots of people trying to do things they haven’t done, relying on third party entities to handle the new complexities in this line of work?
Moderator: Can you talk a little about the criteria you use in evaluating counterparties?
Drayne: The Ginnie Mae model is different than Fannie’s and Freddie’s. We have fewer areas we’re concerned about. We don’t have credit risks — unlike Fannie and Freddie. That is the province of FHA, VA and Rural Housing. What we’re looking at is very simple: Do servicers have the wherewithal to collect money and remit money and report on all of those activities? What we’re looking at is largely a function of financial stability, because particularly with these government programs, the amount of time servicers will be responsible for advancing funds is a lot longer than it is in the conventional world. Financial stability and resources are a big part of it, as is just basic competency in managing the flow of money and managing the custodial accounts. That’s what we’re looking at. I will say that Ginnie Mae has more resources than it’s had in the past, and we’re starting to expand the areas that we look at and do some better types of reporting to Issuers about how we think they’re performing. We’re looking more at things like Issuers who have outlying performance when it comes to prepayment speeds and the impact that might have on the program. So we’re doing more, but it all comes down to the basics I’ve described.
Moderator: One last question. What are the key lessons learned from the crisis—macro lessons, and looking forward, what are some of the key challenges facing us as we try to build a new servicing paradigm?
Drayne: I’ll go small with my answer—just a micro concept. We were having a meeting this morning with one of our largest Issuers. We were going over a bunch of operational issues — six or seven of them — that are of concern to Ginnie Mae and this Issuer. We thought we were talking about six or seven different issues, but at the end of the conversation, we realized it was all the same issue. Everything we were talking about had to do with the prevalence, unforeseen a few years ago, of going back into loans and making some modification or change to a loan after the loan originally closed, and all of the operational problems that result from that. Obviously, nobody ever thought of this or anticipated that there would be so much of this going on. To me, it’s an open question: Is this something that arose because of particular circumstances that lasted a few bad years, and we’ll just go back to normal, or is there something fundamentally different about servicing a mortgage loan? When you think the loan is closed, now are you really just starting a chapter where there could be lots of different things happening? I don’t have an opinion about that, but it’s been such a big, unforeseen development that I think it’s an interesting thing to wonder about.
Remarks by Ted Tozer, President, Ginnie Mae
2013 Mortgage Bankers Association Secondary Market Conference & Expo"Secondary Market Executives Update"
Monday, May 06, 2013New York, NY
I want to get through a couple of systems changes that are going on at Ginnie Mae; things we’ve done this past year. Then I’ll touch on a couple of other initiatives so I can stay within the 10-minute rule Garry [Cipponeri] gave us.
As Garry said, we should be close to breaking $1.4 trillion in outstanding securities with our April issuance. Year to date — our year starts October 1— we have issued $272 billion worth of securities, compared to $260 billion in the same period last year. We did $388 billion in issuance in 2012. So we will probably break the $400 billion mark this year, based on current projections.
Right now, with our partners at FHA, VA, and Rural Housing, we are accounting for about half of the purchase activity that’s going on in the country right now.
People do wonder about us approving Issuers, and we do approve them. Over the last two and a half years, we’ve approved more than 105 new Issuers. To give you some more statistics, right now, our approved Issuer base stands at about 420 Issuers; we increase our base of Issuers every month.
As far as our securitization platform, currently we have just under nine million loans in our securities, and we have 3,000 pools we report on every month. We release 34 million pieces of data on our pools every month. There’s a lot of data that runs through our program.
To talk about the initiatives we have, regarding the amount of data we put out, we’re trying to modernize our securitization platform and systems. We’re progressing in that process. We are moving off our old mainframe to a server-type environment. And you’re going to see changes in the way you do business with us that should be positive as we start rolling out different types of features in six to nine months. Again, you’ll be hearing from us; we’re engaging a lot of the Issuer base to make sure we’re hitting its needs with the new platform.
We’re in a situation, too, where we’re moving to the new MISMO standards with our data, we are working with the industry on that going forward.
Another issue we’re dealing with now is the concept of the FHA and VA market share being pulled back. I hear about it all the time from policymakers. With overall bond volumes eventually coming down, we’re looking at the possibility of merging our Ginnie Mae I and Ginnie Mae II programs into one program. We are meeting with a group of Issuers as well as investors to understand the complexities of that process because we feel it’s important we have their input. Bifurcating the volume into two securities in today’s world doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, so we’re looking at how to merge the two with minimal disruption to the marketplace. You’ll be hearing more and more of that as we start our outreach in the next few months to understand the potential pitfalls in moving forward. This merger will be a huge initiative for us; Ginnie Mae I is the original security, it was first issued in the 1970s. This is a nearly 50-year-old program that we’ve been looking to potentially merge into the Ginnie Mae II program.
The last thing I want to touch base on is that we really are concerned about liquidity in the market and making sure that Ginnie Mae is servicing trades as well as possible. Because of that, we have rolled out our acknowledgment agreement that we’ve been talking about for a couple of years. We’re getting some pretty good traction on that as far as people using it as a way to finance their MSRs and to raise cash. But we’re also trying to make the document as flexible as possible. We’re trying to bring liquidity to the Ginnie Mae market and give support to you as Issuers.
Those are the issues we are looking at right now. Again, you’ll hear a lot about the Ginnie I and II merger as we start rolling it out.
Moderator: So you’re eliminating the Ginnie Mae I, but aren’t you going to start a third program in essence because you’ll have customs that are eligible for TBA and customs that are not eligible?
Tozer: Not really. We’re in a situation where you just have the customs that are out there, conventions that were done for low amounts, that would basically be eligible for TBA, they wouldn’t really be a third program. The third security is more of a concept that you would have Fannie [Mae] and Freddie [Mac] doing. The baseline for TBA eligibility would be the multi-lender pool, but you could also have a limited number of custom pools that would also be TBA eligible. We’re looking at all the options, weighing the pros and cons, and over the next few months, we’re going to be talking to all the stakeholders.
Moderator: The question is around raising “G” fees. We’ve seen “G” fees raised as well as MIPs for FHA.
Tozer: Our “G” fee is not going to go up. As far as MIPs for FHA — that might be something they’re looking at — not so much in terms of selection but more in terms of balancing the business with the GSEs to make sure their footprint makes sense. I think FHA is very comfortable with their current MIP level. It’s more than adequate to cover their credit exposure, so now it’s more of a policy issue. I don’t think there are plans for FHA to do anything as far as its premiums. Again, they’re comfortable with the book of business they’re getting as far as the below-680 FICO score. They think that the premiums are adequate to cover the profile for that borrower.
Remarks by Michael Drayne, Senior Vice President, Office of Issuer & Portfolio Management, Ginnie Mae
NRMLA Eastern Regional Meeting & Finance and Investment Forum
Wednesday, March 20, 2013New York, New York
I want to thank NRMLA for again providing me with the opportunity to speak to this gathering. We at Ginnie Mae are very conscious of both the uniqueness and special role of the HECM program, and the importance of the Ginnie Mae mortgage-backed securities program to its operation and success. We value the partnerships we have forged with the lending and investing communities, and occasions such as this are useful in fostering a continued strong relationship, for the ultimate benefit of America’s senior homeowners.
The purpose of my remarks here today is to provide an update on our major activities and views regarding the HMBS program. But I’ll preface this topic with a statement I make just about anytime I speak on behalf of Ginnie Mae: Understanding how Ginnie Mae views anything depends simply on understanding what Ginnie Mae is. This is a frequently misunderstood subject, and we make it a point to be vigilant about explaining our model, and correcting the idea that we are more analogous to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac than is in fact true, as well as addressing confusion about how we relate to or interact with FHA.
Ginnie Mae can be described as simply a mono-line insurance company owned by the federal government. We insure mortgage-backed security holders against loss, by guaranteeing that they will be paid according to the terms outlined in the prospectus. We don’t buy loans, or issue securities, or set rules for originating or servicing loans – the latter being the province of FHA. Our primary concern is that the money for the security holders moves from one place to another, at the time and in the amount specified.
Today, we have about $1.4 trillion of this insurance in force, in the form of outstanding MBS balances, or – seen from the other side -- Ginnie Mae mortgage servicing rights. This is about a 10% increase over last year. The HMBS portion of this figure today stands at about $40 billion, about 3% of the total – but a 25% increase over last year.
I’ll mention one other set of figures that I think is particularly interesting. A distinguishing feature of the Ginnie Mae HMBS program is the ability to securitize multiple successive pieces of the outstanding balance of a single reverse mortgage. Last year there were 1.3 million of these pieces in existence, at an average of about $24,000. One year later, there are over 3 million pieces being serviced, at an average of about $12,000.
All in all, therefore, even in a time of reduced origination volumes, from a purely Ginnie Mae standpoint the HMBS balances and component pieces are continuing to increase substantially.
Numbers aside, our position with respect to the HMBS program remains unchanged. It is our mandate and core mission to use our government guarantee to support the lending programs of HUD, as well as our other partner agencies, thus attracting capital into the U.S. Housing System. We are enormously proud of the work that was done at Ginnie Mae to create the HMBS product, and we take seriously our continuing role in supporting HECM lending. We are fully committed to this program.
I will turn now to the topic of: what is Ginnie Mae thinking about these days in connection with reverse mortgages and the HMBS program.
Issue number one is unchanged from last year: sale accounting treatment, or lack of same, for HMBS transactions. As most of you probably know, evolving accounting standards have resulted in the classification of these as financings, the impact of which is highly unwelcome to most issuers, and has kept some potential issuers from participating in the market.
Because this situation has such a pronounced impact on our program, Ginnie Mae has been deeply engaged in an effort to find a constructive solution. This has been an extraordinarily complex and time-consuming endeavor, because of the unique nature of the program and the fact that the statutory and documentary underpinnings of the program predate and don’t fit neatly with the accounting standards and points of interpretation that are now critical.
Nonetheless, after an extensive examination of the issue from both a legal and accounting standpoint, and with the assistance of independent legal and accounting consultants, Ginnie Mae maintains its position, as follows: the securitization of HECM mortgages is to be considered an absolute transfer by the Issuer under the Ginnie Mae guaranty agreement. Accounting for the securitizations as financings, therefore, does not seem to us to be the best representation of the essential nature of the transaction.
Having undertaken this examination, and validated our view, we are prepared now to continue the dialogue with the accounting authorities, and represent our opinion as the sponsor of the HMBS program. We cannot be sure what course this dialogue will take from this point, but we feel that our long review has been beneficial, and we pledge to continue to make our best attempt to be communicative with stakeholders in the HECM/HMBS program in a manner that is respectful of the concerns and prerogatives of those involved in deciding the question.
I wanted also to touch briefly on two other issues that are not so much on the front burner, but that we at Ginnie Mae want to suggest are worthy of consideration and exploration by industry participants, as we all work to re-establish a sound footing for the future of reverse mortgage lending.
The first has to do with the value of HMBS securities in the marketplace, and the characteristics that drive that value. We are mindful of the extraordinary premium prices that these securities attract. Our belief is that going forward there will be increased scrutiny of the impact and use of these premiums, and the appropriateness of the interest rates that generate them. While in a general sense we view the premium pricing attached to Ginnie Mae securities as a positive attribute and prime example of the strength and value of the Ginnie Mae program, at the same time we do not wish to see these premiums result in distortions that detract from the program’s intended purpose. We are working closely with FHA in its exploration of the ways in which the HECM program can be modified to preserve its contribution, and believe that this is an area that will be explored as part of this. We also encourage the industry to continue its own examination of lending practices, and consider how to foster any improvements that are at the discretion of lenders and not dependent on defined program mechanics such as principal limit tables.
The second issue concerns the importance of a diverse HECM servicing infrastructure to support the future growth that we all wish to see. We are conscious of a long-term trend that we think could potentially be problematic in the future if it is not reversed: many of the institutions that have now left the scene or curtailed their participation in the industry maintained proprietary platforms for effectively servicing reverse mortgages. While there are heartening signs that newer entities have and will continue to replace the origination capabilities of these departed institutions, we see a dearth of newer entrants in the field of servicing. There is, consequently, a consolidation of servicing capability that we are concerned could be limiting from the standpoint of Ginnie Mae. In our conversations with current or prospective industry participants, we will be exploring ways in which the diversity and capacity of HECM servicers can be further developed so as to keep pace with the needs of a thriving, multi-faceted market.
As a final thought, and on a positive concluding note, I want to express just how impressive I find the resilience of this specialized segment of residential finance. This has been a protracted period of adjusting to a series of challenges; it can’t have been easy for anyone involved, and it isn’t over yet. I can only tell you that Ginnie Mae can be counted on to work in good faith with our partner agency FHA to enable this program to be successful and a long-term contributor to the many Americans who have relied upon it to date or will in the years ahead. Our ongoing relationship with the lending and investor community is crucial to this success.
Thank you again for this opportunity, and for your attention.