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TheStreet Open House

Stop Bashing the Banks: Analyst

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- FBR Capital Markets analyst Paul Miller says it's time for U.S. regulators to "stop the madness" of mortgage putback claims that are threating the economic recovery.

Following the Federal Housing Finance Agency's announcement after Friday's market close of lawsuits demanding the repurchase of $196 billion in private-label mortgage-backed securities from 17 large banks, Miller published a report on Monday with updated estimates for large banks' potential losses from mortgage putback demands.

According to FBR's revised estimates, which incorporate the FHFA's lawsuits and "may be overly conservative," the entire mortgage industry is facing repurchase losses of $121 billion but the analyst adds, "does anyone really know?"

The figure includes $40.19 billion in total losses from mortgage repurchase demands now being faced by Bank of America (BAC), while JPMorgan Chase (BAC) is looking $21.17 billion in mortgage putback losses, according to FBR. Rounding out the "big four" U.S. banks, Miller estimates that Wells Fargo (WFC) could lose $6.41 billion from mortgage repurchase claims, followed by $4.76 billion for Citigroup (C).

As the regulator of Fannie Mae (FNMA) and Freddie Mac (FMCC) -- which were taken into government conservatorship three years ago -- the FHFA is mandated to go seek recovery of any losses. But Miller thinks enough is enough since the government putback demands "drain capital from the banking system, and they cause banks to overly tighten credit standards, which pushes potential homebuyers onto the sidelines."

According to Miller, the U.S. government lacks a coordinated response to the mortgage mess, which is why the housing agencies "are acting in their own self interest as opposed to that of the broader U.S. economy."

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