Mar 9, 2008

Michael S. Rozeff on the GSEs: Let them fail

The stock price of Fannie Mae, which almost hit $90 in December of 2000 is down to $22. It fell over 10 percent on March 6 alone. I hope this company goes bankrupt along with Freddie Mac, which is down to $20 after being north of $70 a share. The government has no business butting into the mortgage business, so if Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac fail, good riddance.

Although I’d enjoy seeing a complete debacle occur in these two government-created monsters, quite possibly the government will prevent or otherwise forestall their bankruptcies should they ever be imminent. The government provides no explicit guarantees to these companies, and the companies state that there are no guarantees. Nevertheless, investors have acted as if the companies had some implicit guarantees. They have good reason. Congress clearly wants these companies around so that they can buy up mortgages. The political fallout from their failures would be severe.

Investors therefore have lent money to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac at (low) rates not in accord with their risk. This has allowed these companies to create and dominate a secondary market in mortgages. They bought up mortgages originated by banks, packaged them up, and resold them... These securities have been turning sour because the mortgages in them are defaulting. As a result, the yields on these debts are running 3 percent higher than Treasury bond yields, as compared with a more typical 1 percent. And even that premium is not as high as other troubled mortgage-related debts.

~ Michael S. Rozeff, "Let the Bankruptcies Roll,", March 8, 2008

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