It's official: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are getting booted from the New York Stock Exchange. Ever since the housing-market crash, the two government-sponsored mortgage giants have been kept alive by $145 billion in federal bailouts. Now, because Fannie stock traded below the $1 average price level for 30 trading days, the two companies will delist their shares from the NYSE.
- Here's What's Happening, explains Jacob Goldstein at NPR's Planet Money: "They went bust when the housing market fell apart, and the government took them over. Both Fannie and Freddie continue to lose money, and taxpayers continue to pay the price. Everybody seems to agree the current situation is temporary, and needs to be clarified. But nobody seems to know what comes next. Ultimately, it's up to Congress to decide. As a GAO report pointed out last fall, the possibilities fall along a continuum, from public to private." Those ideas are 1) Create a government agency to buy mortgages and re-sell them to investors 2) Reconstitute Fannie and Freddie as a government-sponsored enterprise or 3) Dramatically reduce the government's role in the mortgage business.
- It's About Time! writes Matt Phillips at The Wall Street Journal: "For regulators to allow mindless speculation on shares of what is effectively an arm of the government just doesn’t make any sense. It makes a mockery of the message of financial reform the government is trying to send. Here’s the short version of that message: Capital markets aren’t just casinos, they should play a constructive function in society by raising capital, leading to the formation of companies and the development of products and jobs that improve people’s lives."
- The Delisting Further Destroyed Fannie and Freddie Stock, writes Tiernan Ray at Barron's: "Shares of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are plunging after both companies said they would move their shares from the New York Stock Exchange to the over-the-counter market after falling afoul of minimum price rules. Fannie is down 27 cents, or almost 30%, at 65 cents. Freddie is off 28 cents, or 23%, at 94 cents."
- What a Mess, sighs conservative Ross Kaminsky at The American Spectators: "Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the unholy devourers of taxpayer money in service of liberals' utopian visions of letting people with low incomes own homes they can't afford, are to be delisted from the New York Stock Exchange because of stock prices trading under $1 per share for more than 30 trading days. This despite the fact that the two have swallowed more than $145 billion of taxpayer money with expectations for further losses ranging from $160 billion to $1 trillion more... There has perhaps never been a more expensive demonstration of the horrendous unintended consequences of do-gooder Progressivism and a pursuit of 'social justice' combined with a Republican Party without the backbone to do anything about the march to bankruptcy for fear of being called 'mean.'"