Treasury Investigates Freddie Mac Investment

The Treasury Department is investigating a report that Freddie Mac, the mortgage giant, bet against homeowners’ ability to refinance their loans even as it was making it more difficult for them to do so, Jay Carney, a White House spokesman, said on Monday.

The report came just as the Obama administration had been escalating its efforts to push Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to ease conditions for homeowners, including those who owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth.

Last Friday, the Treasury announced that it would offer increased incentives to lenders to forgive portions of homeowner debt, saying pointedly that for the first time the incentives would be offered on loans held by Fannie and Freddie.

But Fannie and Freddie, which said they would review the increased incentives, have long declined to allow debt reduction on the loans it holds or guarantees, saying that it would create unnecessary losses for taxpayers. The companies, which are financed by taxpayers, have also maintained barriers to refinancing, like risk-based fees for homeowners, even as mortgage interest rates have dropped below 4 percent.

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