Wednesday, January 13, 2010

For a Quicker Housing Fix: Nationalize Fannie, Freddie? (FNM; FRE)

It wasn't for grins and giggles that we posted "A Warning for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Shareholders: Lessons From Alternative Energy Investing (FRE; FNM)" earlier this month.
Freddie's up a penny at $1.39, Fannie's flat.
From the Wall Street Journal's Developments blog:

Should Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac be nationalized?

The government last month took a big step to underscore its support for the mortgage-finance giants when it pledged to cover unlimited losses over the next three years. But the plan has always been to ultimately return Fannie and Freddie to private ownership. Some say Uncle Sam should end that illusion and, instead, nationalize the companies in order to more aggressively stabilize the housing market.

One such scenario, outlined by Thomas Stanton, a fellow at the Center for the Study of American Government at Johns Hopkins University, would have the government nationalize Fannie and Freddie for the next five years, with an option to renew government ownership every five years after that.

By nationalizing Fannie and Freddie, the government would be able to more quickly clean up the housing market. The government could remove fees and other hurdles that have made it less attractive to refinance a mortgage through Fannie and Freddie, they could create new consumer protections for mortgages, and the government could more quickly modify mortgages for troubled borrowers, Mr. Stanton said in remarks at a conference on the future of Fannie and Freddie sponsored by Ralph Nader’s Center for Study of Responsive Law.

That still seems to be a remote prospect. It would require the U.S. to bring Fannie and Freddie’s $5.5 trillion in mortgage guarantees and related investments onto the government’s balance sheet, and it could lead to larger immediate losses that would be added to the nation’s growing deficit....MORE


Rep. Barney Frank: Lenders Fannie and Freddie now a 'public policy instrument' (FRE; FNM)

Fed economist calls for US government Mortgage Backed Securities guarantees (FNM; FRE)