Report: Freddie Mac bets against homeowner refinancings

NPR and ProPublica investigation shines light on investment practices

In 2010 and 2011, mortgage giant Freddie Mac invested billions of dollars on bets that homeowners with high-interest mortgages would not be able to refinance at today’s lower interest rates, according to a joint investigation conducted by NPR and ProPublica, a nonprofit, independent news agency.

While legal, the bets appear to be in direct conflict with the taxpayer-backed company’s public mission, as stated on its website, "to stabilize the nation’s residential mortgage markets and expand opportunities for homeownership and affordable rental housing," the news agencies said, noting that refinancing terms have been getting more restrictive of late and include higher fees and new rules that prevent some homeowners from taking advantage of historically low interest rates.