Editorial: Pay back a sign of recovery

Fourth quarter statistics from government-backed mortgage lender Fannie Mae provide further evidence of a strengthening housing market which will help keep the country's economic recovery on a positive path.

The Associated Press reported Tuesday that Fannie Mae earned $7.6 billion in the October-December quarter. Through all of last year, it earned $17.2 billion.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were the topic of much public concern when the George W. Bush administration bailed them out financially after the housing market collapsed. But with the recovery of the housing market, the two are paying back that money.

According to The Associated Press, Fannie Mae has paid back $35.6 billion of the $116 billion that it received. Freddie Mac has paid back about $20 billion of the $72 billion that it received.

Together the two agencies own or guarantee about half of all U.S. mortgages. According to The Associated Press, they and other federal agencies back about 90 percent of new mortgages.

The collapse of the housing industry had a devastating impact on many families. Without the government bailouts, many more families would have found themselves in dire financial straits. The Associated Press says that loans backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac total about $5 trillion.

Prices have been recovering since the housing market collapse. Many home owners are at or near where they were before the market took a dive. The profits coming back to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and subsequently back to the government to pay for their bailouts, are sure signs of the continuing recovery.