U.S. Treasury Attempts To Save Freddie, Fannie, Avert Apocalypse

This Sunday the Bush administration asked Congress to approve a “rescue package” that would give officials the ability to inject “billions of federal dollars” into Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. The Federal Reserve also announced that it would make its short-term lending programs available to Freddie and Fannie, said the NYT.

From the NYT:

An official said the Fed’s decision to permit the companies to borrow from its so-called discount window was approved at the request of the Treasury, but that it was temporary and would probably end once Congress approved Treasury’s plan. Some officials briefed on the plan said Congress could be asked to extend the total line of credit to the institutions to $300 billion.

The actions, which taken together could provide an overwhelming surge of capital to the companies, were the second time in four months that the housing crisis had prompted the government to scramble over a weekend to rescue a major financial institution. Last March, the Treasury Department engineered the sale of Bear Stearns to prevent it from going into bankruptcy and cause a shock to the financial system.

Paulson, who has spent the last week assuring everyone that Freddie and Fannie are “adequately capitalized,” had this to say:

“The president has asked me to work with Congress to act on this plan immediately,” the Treasury secretary, Henry M. Paulson Jr., said Sunday on the steps of the Treasury building. “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-owned companies. Their support for the housing market is particularly important as we work through the current housing correction.”

Treasury Acts to Shore Up Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac [NYT]