This should come as no surprise:
Financial troubles at some of the Federal Home Loan Banks are raising questions about how well directors of these institutions are supervising their executives.
A plunge in the value of mortgage securities bought by several of the regional home-loan banks has forced them to halt dividends and curtail funding for local housing projects. An annual report issued by the banks' regulator this past week says some of them "paid insufficient attention" to credit risks and haven't invested enough in information technology.
Unlike giant banks or government-backed mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the 12 regional home-loan banks draw little public scrutiny. Created by Congress in 1932 to support the housing market, they are cooperatives owned by more than 8,000 banks, thrifts, credit unions and insurers. Because investors assume the government would bail them out in a crisis, they can borrow money cheaply in the bond market.
If the home-loan banks ever stumble badly, U.S. taxpayers would be called on to "rescue yet another financial entity," warns Karen Shaw Petrou, managing partner of Federal Financial Analytics, a research firm in Washington. These banks have about $1.26 trillion of debt outstanding, putting them among the world's biggest borrowers.