Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Latest On Freddie Mac's $3 Billion Debt Sale on Monday

Wapo has the details:

Treasury Department officials were working the telephones yesterday to make sure that Freddie Mac, one of the nation's two troubled mortgage giants, will be able to sell $3 billion of its securities tomorrow in a previously scheduled sale that has now become a crucial test of investor confidence.

Though officials said they were optimistic the sale would be a success, anything less would pose new questions about how far the federal government is willing to go to prop up Freddie Mac, its sister Fannie Mae and other faltering financial enterprises.

Officials spoke yesterday with major banks that normally purchase securities, like the short-term debt offered by Freddie, to ensure these firms still plan to place bids tomorrow. This was part of an effort by officials at Treasury, the Federal Reserve and other agencies this weekend to gauge market sentiment and check that investors still have faith in Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae after the steep decline in their stock prices last week.

At the same time, Treasury officials were considering several options to backstop the sale in case they discover that interest in the securities is flagging, according to sources familiar with the discussions. Under one alternative, the Treasury or Fed would purchase the securities directly.

Other possibilities are allowing the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to buy the debt indirectly through private brokers or asking private firms to purchase the debt while extending to them either a public or private assurance that the government would back the securities if Freddie were ultimately unable to cover its obligations.

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