Shares of the ailing mortgage lenders, the Federal National Mortgage
Association - Fannie Mae and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation
- Freddie Mac swung widely Monday following the Bush administration's
decision Sunday to step in to shore up investor confidence. VOA's Barry
Wood has more on the measures.
The shares of Fannie Mae and
Freddie Mac recovered somewhat Monday morning and then closed the day
five percent lower. Both shares are down over 80 percent from their
Barney Frank, the chairman of the House Financial
Services Committee, is supportive of Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson's
plan to assure the viability of both institutions, which purchase or
finance about $6 trillion of US home mortgages.
"I think what
the secretary of the treasury has proposed is reasonable," said Barney
Frank. "It's a kind of reassurance to people that help will be there,
even though we don't think it will be needed."
The Treasury and
Federal Reserve announced Sunday that the government is prepared to buy
some of Fannie and Freddie's stock and that both institutions can
borrow from the central bank.
Many financial analysts praised
the government's action. But others, including legendary investor Jim
Rogers, who decades ago co-founded with financier George Soros one of
the world's most successful mutual funds, strongly oppose the rescue of
Fannie and Freddie. Rogers spoke to Bloomberg Television from Singapore.
who bought debt in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac can read a prospectus [a
summary of a firm's financial position]," said Jim Rogers. "They can
read it; it says it is not guaranteed by the government. Anybody who
can read a balance sheet knew that those companies were a sham and had
problems. Now we've got to bailout the Japanese [investors in Fannie].
The Japanese own hundreds of millions of dollars in this stuff, so
we're going to bail out the Japanese and the Chinese and everybody else
in the world? What is this! And it ruins the balance sheet of the
Federal Reserve, and it makes the dollar more vulnerable."
financial strength of Fannie and Freddie plummeted along with the value
of US real estate, which overall is down about 10 percent over the past
year. Before the housing slump began, US home prices generally doubled
between 2000 and 2005. During the boom years interest rates were low
and lending standards were relaxed.
Housing legislation now
before the Congress is intended to stem the rising tide of home
foreclosures and return stability to the housing market. That
legislation, initiated by Congressman Frank, would give an expanded
role to Fannie Mae.
"If we get the bill passed, that I believe
will be signed by the president by the end of next week, I think we
are at the point where much of the bad stuff is over," he said. "That
is, we will be reducing the number of foreclosures and while there will
still be some problems trying to work out from the system the bad loans
that have been made, we will by two weeks from now have made it much
less likely that these kinds of bad loans will be made in the future."
financial sector of the US stock market has been greatly weakened by
the housing slump and credit squeeze that began one year ago. The stock
price of many financial institutions are down by over 50 percent and
that price decline continued on Monday. The dollar was weaker as
analysts remained unsure about the implications of the rescue of Fannie