Thursday, October 15, 2009

Citi Conference Call Comments on Impact of HAMP

by Bill McBride on 10/15/2009 02:27:00 PM

These comments show how important HAMP is to the housing market. The key points are 1) Loans in trial modifications are included in the delinquency rates (as we've discussed), and 2) we are completely in the dark on how the trial mods are performing!

Meredith Whitney:

Since so much of your numbers today are influenced by the trial mod [HAMP] results, I wanted to ask a couple of questions. Number one, is the early experience consistent with the report that came out in October with the Congressional oversight result, which talked to the difficulty of finding documentation on the modifications? Can you provide more color there? And also a question that I have been asking management is when do you think an appropriate report card will be accessible in terms of the success of these? Is it fourth quarter, first quarter and then I have a follow-up after that please?
Citi CFO John Gerspach:
The earliest modifications that we entered into were in May. And so we are just finishing up the five-month period right now. And I would say that the documentation process, both in the way that the request is given to the consumer, as well as the assistance that we are giving consumers, has improved over time. So the early stages, we are seeing some difficulty in the customers fulfilling the documentation request as either you noted or we noted. That is one of the reasons behind the extension of the trial period from three months to five months. So let's kind of wait until we at least get the October and perhaps November results in to see whether or not the documentation collection or submission process has improved. As far as an overall scorecard on HAMP, my sense, especially given the fact that you have got five months -- five-month trial for all modifications entered into prior to September 1 and then a three-month period is at best it will be towards the end of the fourth quarter, but it is probably more of a first quarter next year type of answer.
emphasis added
Citi Slide 18 HAMP Click on graph for larger image in new window.

This is slide 18 from the Citi Presentation. This slide shows the increase in mortgage delinquencies and Gerspach discusses the impact of HAMP below.

Apparently the increase in the 90 to 179 day bucket is due to HAMP, and so is half of the increase in the greater than 180 day bucket. The remaining increase in the greater than 180 day bucket is due to delays in foreclosures.

Earlier from CFO John Gerspach:
Turning to first mortgages on slide 18, we take a closer look at the delinquency data. Last quarter, we discussed a trend that showed a decline in the 90 to 179 day bucket and an increase in the 180 day plus bucket. The trend in the 90 to 179 day bucket has reversed this quarter, but can be largely explained by the loan modification program known as Home Affordable Modification or HAMP. We have approximately $6 billion of on-balance sheet mortgages in this program. Under HAMP, borrowers make reduced mortgage payments for a trial period, during which they continue to age through our delinquency buckets even if they are current under the new payment terms. This serves to increase our delinquencies. Virtually all of the increase in the 90 to 179 bucket and half of the increase in the 180 plus day bucket are loans in HAMP trial modifications. The rest of the increase in the 180 plus day bucket is attributable to a backlog of foreclosure inventory driven by a slowdown in the foreclosure process in many states. HAMP also reduces net credit losses as loans in the trial period do not get charged off at 180 days past-due as long as they have made at least one payment. Nearly half the sequential decline in net credit losses on first mortgages this quarter was attributable to HAMP. We have provided additional loan loss provisions to offset this impact.
Analyst:
And of all of the metrics that we see, for example, the 90 day delinquencies and the like, which do you think that we should pay the most attention to in terms of evaluating the choices that you made in terms of building reserves other than the 13 months?
John Gerspach:
Well, you certainly have to take a look at the combination of the 90 day plus delinquencies. Let's talk about cards. I think cards and mortgages are somewhat different. From a cards point of view, as I mentioned, when we look at things, we are looking at both the early buckets, as well as the later buckets. And admittedly, we don't give you much information on the early buckets. But in the retail partner cards portfolio, as we mentioned, we are seeing improvements in the 90 day plus buckets and we are also seeing some stabilization in the early buckets. And that is what gives us, again, some deal of comfort when looking at that portfolio. Branded cards, I think I mentioned that we have seen reductions in the 90 plus day delinquencies, but as I noted, the net credit losses continued to grow slightly this quarter and so we are somewhat more cautious in that portfolio. And finally, when it comes to mortgages, as I mentioned on the call, or just before, the HAMP program right now has got a rather significant impact on our delinquency statistics and really makes it difficult for anyone from the outside to actually have a good view as to the inherent credit profile in our delinquency buckets.