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Friday, August 15, 2008

WSJ Survey: GSE Backstop Will Be Used

by PJ on 8/15/2008 10:20:00 AM

A WSJ survey found that a bunch of those faceless, nameless types known as economists think the Treasury will use one or both of its new-found abilities to prop up Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac:

On average, the 53 economists polled in the survey put the probability at 59% that the Treasury Department will have to step in to bail out Fannie or Freddie.

"Blank checks almost always get filled in and cashed," said Stuart Hoffman of PNC Financial Services Group.

The majority of respondents hope that it doesn't come to that. When asked how the government should handle the situation with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, 68% said the lenders should be pushed to raise capital privately and hope a recovering housing market will keep them from needing government money.

However, nearly one in three said the companies should be nationalized now, and then split into smaller companies when the housing market recovers.

Which makes me think that 16 of the 53 economists surveyed had the last name of Greenspan. Call it a hunch.