New York (HedgeCo.Net) – Mortgage lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac may get some help from the Fed in hopes of staving off a market implosion following a crippling credit crunch and a period of great stress in the financial markets.
"Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac play a central role in our housing finance system and must continue to do so in their current form as shareholder-owner companies," Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson said.
The Federal Reserve of New York has been authorized to provide funding should it prove necessary, in which case the loans will be dispersed with a 2.25 percent interest rate. Meanwhile, the U.S. Treasury is seeking to expand their credit line and make an equity investment if approved by Congress. The Treasury is currently allowed to extend $2.25 billion to each company.
"This affirmation of the important role [of both companies] – and that we should continue to operate as shareholder-owned companies – should go a long way toward reassuring world markets," said Freddie Mac head Richard Syron.
The two companies back about $5.3 trillion in mortgages, about half of the total mortgage debt in the U.S. Freddie Mac is scheduled to sell about $3 billion in short-term notes today.
Shares of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac plummeted last week amidst investor scares, but saw a sharp rise before the bell today. Fannie shares rose 22 percent to $12.50 while Freddie shares climbed 27.1 percent to $9.85.
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