Like the proverbial thief in the night, the US federal government snuck in Friday night and bailed out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. I hate to say I told you so, but I wasn't surprised. They didn't really have a choice:
The Ministry of Finance and the Federal Reserve had no choice but to intervene due to one single reason: The collapse of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac could have precipitated a core meltdown of the American bank and stock market systems, dragging the rest of the world with it into the abyss.
That is because these two banks are responsible for $5.3 billion (3.7 billion euros) of America's $12 billion (8.4 billion euro) total mortgage debt. That corresponds to one third of America's gross domestic product.
But never fear, the CEOs of the collapsing companies are safe:
Under the terms of his employment contract, Daniel H. Mudd, the departing head of Fannie Mae, stands to collect $9.3 million in severance pay, retirement benefits and deferred compensation, provided his dismissal is deemed to be "without cause," according to an analysis by the consulting firm James F. Reda & Associates. Mr. Mudd has already taken home $12.4 million in cash compensation and stock option gains since becoming chief executive in 2004, according to an analysis by Equilar, an executive pay research firm.
Richard F. Syron, the departing chief executive of Freddie Mac, could receive an exit package of at least $14.1 million, largely because of a clause added to his employment contract in mid-July as his company's troubles deepened. He has taken home $17.1 million in pay and stock option gains since becoming chief executive in 2003.
Meanwhile more than one half of the state governments in the U.S. are running massive deficits too, but no bailout is in store for them.
As I've been posting for a while, the money being spent on bail outs for financial entities is larger than the combined deficit of all the states. This report from the Center on Budget & Policy Priorities shows that the states are now being hit hard by the same hard economic times that dropped Bear Sterns and now Fannie and Freddie:
At least twenty-seven states, including several of the nation's largest, face budget shortfalls in fiscal year 2009. Of these 27 states, specific estimates are available for 22 states and the District of Columbia; the combined deficits of these 22 states plus the District of Columbia are expected to total at least $39 billion for fiscal 2009 -- which begins July 2008 in most states. Another 3 states expect budget problems in fiscal year 2010, although some of those gaps may occur earlier than expected.
The 22 states in which revenues are expected to fall short of the amount needed to support current services in fiscal year 2009 are Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin. In addition, the District of Columbia is expecting a shortfall in fiscal year 2009. The budget gaps total $39.1 to $40.8 billion, averaging 8.9 - 9.3 percent of these states' general fund budgets.