Daily Archives: September 8, 2008

John Gapper

Hank Paulson’s effort to prop up Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac has various beneficiaries but few gain more than foreign investors.

One effect of the way the quasi-nationalisation is structured is that US institutions may well suffer more than foreign ones. In brief, it is good for overseas central banks and sovereign wealth funds but bad for US regional banks.

The exuberance in non-US markets this morning is a reflection of that fact. The government has had to step in to reassure foreign investors who have become huge buyers of agency debt, but has treated US equity holders harshly. Read more

John Gapper

Lucy Kellaway has another take on business people and their families.

It seems that smokeless tobacco, of which I approve, is now all the rageRead more

John Gapper

The US government’s near- nationalisation of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac leaves various questions unresolved. Hank Paulson, the Treasury secretary, recognised the biggest of these in his speech on the rescue on Sunday: whether they should become public or private entities in future.

“Government support needs to be either explicit or non-existent, and structured to resolve the conflict between public and private purposes. And policymakers must address the issue of systemic risk.”

He is right that a choice has to be made. Fannie was originally established in 1938 to buy and hold mortgages insured by the federal government through the Federal Housing Administration. The idea was to provide government backing so that low income families could afford to buy homes. Read more