When Fannie Mae got taken over by the US government, it became even more of an instrument of state policy than it was before. Today, Fannie Mae and its state-owned brethren (foremost among them Freddie Mac and the FHA) are responsible for funding the overwhelming majority of mortgages in the US: they essentially are the housing market, for most of us. So when it comes to the problems of default and foreclosure, it’s crucial that Fannie Mae be part of the solution rather than part of the problem. Instead, it’s decided to get onto a self-defeating moralistic high horse.
There will be rejoicing in the corridors of Goldman Sachs tonight: BP has finally overtaken it in the most-loathed company stakes! Yes, Goldman is still plumbing depths rarely seen in the modern era. But BP, even after putting aside $20 billion and grovelling to the president, continues to implode: it’s now hit a level of -47.6 in the latest BrandIndex poll. That’s not far from Toyota’s low point, which was -52.7 at the end of March, but it’s going to be a much harder fight back for BP than it was for Toyota.
Henry Blodget, like all other right-thinking individuals, is appalled at the SEC recapitulating its David Einhorn let’s-shoot-the-messenger errors with its subpoena of 37,000 documents from Sam Antar. But at the same time, Blodget doesn’t seem concerned about the way in which the SEC has included emails to journalists among the documents it’s asking for:
Why would the government force consumers to pay someone else’s taxes — even when that person might not pay any taxes at all? The answer, of course, as it usually is in such cases, is regulatory capture, and in this case the regulator in question is the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
A standard trick in the consumer-facing financial services industry is to appeal to people who are sure they’re going to have no liquidity or cashflow problems in the future, and then make lots of money off them when the inevitable crunches happen. Free checking, for instance, becomes extremely expensive checking when you overdraw your account; and people regularly buy items on their credit card intending to pay the statement off in full, but then fail to do so, incurring substantial interest payments not only on that one item but on everything else they bought that month as well.