The Federal Housing Finance Agency Thursday morning released new estimates on the ultimate cost of bailing out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, cutting its worst case scenario projection to $311 billion from $363 billion.

To date, the U.S. Treasury has used $169 billion of tax payer money to keep the capital position of the GSEs in the black. Without that money, investors would not buy Fannie/Freddie bonds.

A year ago FHFA released projections ranging from $221 billion to $363 billion. Its new “best case” cost is $220 billion, or just $51 billion more than what Treasury has already doled out.

The agency attributed the reduction in its worst case scenario estimate to better than expected financial results at the GSEs.

But the agency also warns that the new estimates are not “expected outcomes” and are based on economic models FHFA gave to the GSEs.

In a new study on the bailout costs, the regulator notes that the two mortgage investing giants continue to pay Treasury a 10% dividend and that most of those payments are funded out of the draws given to Fannie and Freddie each quarter. In other words, Treasury is giving the GSEs money to fund dividends that go right back to Treasury.

Most mortgage analysts and regulators believe that the 10% dividend mandate will prevent the two from ever returning to true profitability.

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