It has become official: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac can now give away mortgage insurance according to political criteria and ignore credit-worthiness or default risk. From the Washington Post,
The Obama administration pledged Thursday to provide unlimited financial assistance to mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, an eleventh-hour move that allows the government to exceed the current $400 billion cap on emergency aid without seeking permission from a bailout-weary Congress.
The Christmas Eve announcement by the Treasury Department means that it can continue to run the companies, which were seized last year, as arms of the government for the rest of President Obama's current term....
The administration is set to release broad principles in February for reforming the companies. Many experts predict that the government will have no choice but to hold on indefinitely to many of the companies' most troubled assets -- mortgage investments made during the housing bubble to less-than-worthy borrowers.
But an administration official said it could take several years to resolve the future of the companies, especially if Congress isn't keen to take up the politically charged issue during the 2010 midterm election year, and if the government wants to preserve the ability to influence the housing market. The companies together own or insure the majority of home loans, and no viable private system exists that could replace them.
My guess is that these agencies will become bloated agencies of rent-seekers throughout the US. It would take another Reagan-type sweep to de-politicize the mortgage insurance business.