Fannie and Freddie nationalized. Treasury takes over.

U.S. Near Deal on Fannie, Freddie (September 6, 2008)

Plan Could Amount to Government Takeover

WASHINGTON -- The Treasury Department is putting the finishing touches to a plan designed to shore up Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, according to people familiar with the matter, a move that would essentially result in a government takeover of the mortgage giants.

The plan is expected to involve putting the two companies into the conservatorship of their regulator, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, said several people familiar with the matter. That would mean the government would take the reins of the companies, at least temporarily.

It is also expected to involve the government injecting capital into Fannie and Freddie. That could happen gradually on a quarter-by-quarter basis, rather than in a single move, one person familiar with the matter said.


Wow. This is big news. I always knew that this would all end up with a gigantic taxpayer bailout; I just can't really believe it is happening this fast. This tells me that things are far worse than publicly admitted. Remember, it was just a couple of weeks ago, during congressional hearings on the matter, when Hank Paulson was handed an $800 billion blank check and he said that it was "unlikely" that any money would be needed at all for Fannie and Freddie. And now, a scant few days later, here we are reading about their takeover by the government. Either Hank was thoroughly in the dark, or he was contradicting himself while working furiously behind the scenes to engineer this moment.

Now the mysterious rise in the dollar the past few weeks makes more sense. Most likely the Treasury and foreign central banks worked in concert to create a "cushion" underneath the dollar in anticipation of this event. Now they will try to hold it there.

In a world of free markets, this would be terrible news for the dollar, because it would imply two things: 1) that lots of new dollars will be borrowed into existence to pay for the bailouts, and 2) that the US financial system is in pretty bad shape. Who would want to hold dollars under those circumstances?

Remember, the bonds guaranteed by Fannie and Freddie comprise some of the largest foreign holdings of US debt, totaling in the hundreds of billions of dollars. If those bonds were ever dumped, then the dollar would decline dramatically. That is what is being fought here as much as anything.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at