Senate housing reform champions made money off of housing collapse

by Ryan Smith06 Jul 2016
Two senators taking the lead in housing finance reform made considerable profit betting against the housing market – albeit probably without knowing they were doing so.

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) are currently the sponsors of the Corker-Warner Bill, which aims to reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. But during the run-up to the financial crisis, Corker and Warner (who was then the governor of Virginia) were invested in a fund that made significant profits from Goldman Sachs products designed to bet against the real estate market, according to Yahoo Finance.

Both Corker and Warner have reported millions of dollars of income from the fund, according to Yahoo Finance – although there’s no evidence that either was aware of the fund’s strategy of betting specifically against the real estate market.

Warner and Corker appear to have invested in Pointer Management, a Tennessee-based fund that participated in a Goldman deal called a collateralized debt obligation – or CDO – that essentially requires investors to bet against each other, Yahoo Finance reported. Pointer took the short position on the housing market.

That paid off for Corker and Warner, who had invested in Pointer in 2006 and 2007, respectively. Between 2006 and 2014, Corker reported total income from Pointer of between $3.9 million and $35.5 million, including funds from selling part of his stake in 2012. In 2014, Corker sold the rest of his stake and reported a cash receivable of between $5 million and $25 million, according to Yahoo Finance. Warner reported total income from Pointer of between $1.5 million and $10 million. There is no evidence that the senators knew they’d invested in a fund that was shorting the real estate market, Yahoo Finance reported.

But the deal was one of many Goldman deals insured by AIG, according to the report. Those deals, which resulted in Goldman making collateral calls on the insurer, contributed to AIG’s collapse, which in turn helped kick off the financial meltdown.