Het zwartste scenario
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What might it look like if the government had to lend a hand? Outright nationalization is an unlikely option given that neither the current administration nor the presidential candidates could afford to support such a move in an election year. More likely, the Treasury Department or the Federal Reserve would come in and provide a liquidity backstop, in the form of a loan or guarantee to bondholders that they will be paid. Fannie and Freddie could even do a preferred stock deal with the government, much like the deal forged by Citigroup with the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, says Egan.
That would allow officials the ability to argue that they weren't bailing out the companies, but rather making an investment that would pay off in the long run.Mason has a diffferent twist on a possible intervention. If either were to face insolvency, he says the government should purchase a large voting block of equity in the institution and use that as a tool to eliminate any dividends, replace officers and manage the firms back to solvency.
"But [a rescue] would be a political situation, so it would be messy," says Mason. "Fannie and Freddie would fight against having officers replaced. They would want to keep the dividend." The doomsday scenario could cost taxpayers more than $1 trillion, says the S&P report. The report went so far as to say that a government bailout of Fannie or Freddie could force the agency to lower its rating on the creditworthiness of the United States.