Back in the summer of 2008, as the financial system teetered on the edge of collapse, no one knew what would happen to the debt-laden mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac—would they be allowed to go under, or would the government come to their rescue? What would become of the shareholders? Trillions rested on the answers to those questions. Oh wait, someone did know. Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson. And he told his hedge fund pals and former Goldman Sachs colleagues. He just didn't tell you. Because, really—who the fuck are you?
• Who said the good times are over? On the list of the 10 highest-paid CEOs of 2008: Vikram Pandit, Jamie Dimon, Lloyd Blankfein, and Ken Chenault. [AP]
• Bank of America's board continues to stand by CEO Ken Lewis and has no plans to oust him, says "a person familiar with the deliberations." [WSJ]
• Citigroup is raising some desperately needed cash by selling off its Japanese brokerage and investment units for $5.56 billion. [DB]
David Kellermann, the acting CFO of Freddie Mac who was found dead in his home this morning, hanged himself, according to police. "Some neighbors said Mr. Kellermann had lost a noticeable amount of weight under the strain of the job, and some said they had suggested that he should quit to avoid the stress." Kellermann reportedly hired a security firm to stand watch outside his home after reporters turned up at his front door to ask about his bonus. Hope you're happy, Charles Grassley. [NYT, WSJ]
• Morgan Stanley reported a larger-than-expected loss for the first quarter this morning. The bank reported it lost $177 million, down from the $1.41 billion profit it collected during the same period in 2008. [WSJ, NYT, BN]
• David Kellermann, the chief financial officer of Freddie Mac, was found dead in his Virginia home, the result of an apparent suicide. [WaPo, BN]
• Things have gone from bad to worse for Steve Rattner: New York City's comptroller is investigating whether Quadrangle "intentionally misled or deceived" city pension funds by failing to disclose finder's fees. [WSJ]
One of the oddest side effects of the credit crunch, which most recently brought about the nationalization of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac: Salesforce.com shares are soaring. Fannie and Freddie's fall hasn't boosted Salesforce's business. But Freddie Mac has been taken off the S&P 500 stock index, which made room for Salesforce.com. Index-tracking funds which are required to match its makeup have been buying Salesforce.com as a result.
Hey, can you even blame all the stupid people saying stupid things about today's Freddie Mac Fannie Mae bailout? This whole thing has been stupid ever since someone decided to call it the Federal National Mortgage Association. Who names something "Federal National?" Anyway, the good news is, no one understood any of this shit back in 1968 when they "privatized" it, and no one — us especially! — seems to really understand it now. We keep LOL-ing at stupid things people say about the biggest-ever government bailout only to reflect a while longer and start to the secret genius of all of it! Let us count the ways:1. "[Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae have] gotten too big and too expensive to the taxpayers." Thanks for sharing, Elle Woods Palin! But ha ha ha, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae are supposed to be private companies that have nothing to do with the taxpayers who are only now going to find out how "big" and "expensive" their woeful mismanagement is! Of course, in seizing upon this "gaffe" as Democrats did today they kinda missed the whole supposed reason the bailout was "necessary" to begin with, which is to say, that the government exists to protect the plutocracy but also that taxpayers have essentially "implicitly" guaranteed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bonds throughout their entire 80-year existences. When the Federal government first announced plans to "privatize" Fannie Mae to help balance the budget in January 1968, an economics reporter at the New York Times named Edwin Dale wrote that the whole thing was a budget "gimmick." By September 1968, Lyndon Johnson aides had appropriated the "gimmick" term themselves, in an Edwin Dale story that employed more smug quotation marks than a Tao Lin prospectus:
Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, lenders created at the whim of evil government in the 1930s and 1970s respectively, have been brought back under national supervision in the wake of the country's mortgage crisis. The two institutions simply weren't "capitalized" enough to weather the sub-prime storm, and whatever government regulations were left failed like levees under a flow tide of bad debt. And while it will help stabilize the mortgage market, it won't necessarily help people who have sky-high payments and underwater equity. Ever resourceful, Americans in areas hard hit by foreclosure are playing home ownership musical chairs with the banks. All I understand about economics is that I feel poor. So does this mean Bay Area housing will get more affordable?No. While exurban exiles will feel the pinch on payments and at the pump, denser inner-urban communities will probably see rents increase as desperate homeowners look to cut costs and find job opportunities. And it's not like you can expect affordable housing in the likes of Belmont and Saddle River, Ross or Sag Harbor, Piedmont or Greenwich. As bad as renting is long-term for your retirement and rent control may be for their housing markets, apartment dwellers with fixed costs are the least likely to move back in with parents right now.