Back in March, we saw the bail out of Bear Stearns. But the US Treasury and US Federal Reserve rescue plan for Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae is much more serious and problematic. Bear Stearns was just a badly-run bank that ignored all the common sense principles that have made banking the world's second oldest profession. But Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac own or guarantee almost half of all home loans in the United States.
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are institutions that are now called Government Sponsored Enterprises, or GSEs. Which means the US Government could not let them go under.
Furthermore there are countries that hold hundreds of billions of dollars in US told Reuters it's happy to keep holding on that debt.debt, including Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Russia is just one example and the Russian Finance Ministry has
Which makes this latest bailout a big test of US credit worthiness. The global implications are enormous. The best sign of that is the statement from US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.
"GSE debt is held by financial institutions around the world. Its continued strength is important to maintaining confidence and stability in our financial system and our financial markets. "
In other words, there is no choice here. No rescue plan could send the global economy down the chute.
But there continues to be a question mark over US credit worthiness with the New York Times reporting of warnings from analysts that as many as 150 small and mid size banks could collapse in the next 12 to 18 months. The bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac might have given the banks some breathing space, but it might not be enough to save them. As the greatest of all yogis, Yogi Berra, said, "It ain't over 'til it's over."