Housing

Fannie Mae Is Still A Platypus

Labor group blockades Athens stock market

hide captionHello, Fannie.

Nicole Duplaix/Getty Images

It lays eggs! It nurses its young! It backs billions of dollars worth of U.S. mortgages!

Fannie Mae is a platypus, Ben Bernanke said recently. It's backed by the U.S. government, but not really part of the government. "Neither fish nor fowl," he said. A "no-man's land" between public and private. (For a more thorough explanation of the status of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, read this.)

The weird status of Fannie and Freddie came up again today.

"People who own Fannie and Freddie debt are not in the same legal position as [those who own] Treasury bonds, and I don't want them to be," Barney Frank, the Mass. Dem. who chairs the House Financial Services Committee, told the Washington Post.

He told the Post that investors might take losses when Fannie and Freddie are restructured.

The Treasury responded with a statement that "there should be no uncertainty about Treasury's commitment to support Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac."

And Frank came out with his own statement. It said that the legal status of Fannie and Freddie "does not prevent the Treasury from treating the debt of Fannie and Freddie in in the manner that it believes best supports the important goal of stabilizing the financial system."

It has a tail like a beaver and a bill like a duck!

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Support comes from: