According to recent reports, mortgage giants Fannie Mae (FNM) and Freddie Mac (FRE) are on the cusp of failure, and may be taken over by the federal government as soon as this weekend. The two companies, which together account for nearly half of the nation’s $10+ trillion in mortgage debt, have piled up $14 billion in debt over the past year and are facing additional losses going forward.
The news of the looming takeover broke following a report by the Mortgage Bankers Association that more than 4 million American homeowners were either behind on their payments or in foreclosure at the end of June. That’s a record 9% of all mortgagees.
The takeover, which is expected to cost taxpayers in the neighborhood of $25 billion, was made possible in part by the so-called Housing Rescue Bill, which was signed into law in late July.
Since this news first broke (after the financial markets closed on Friday), shares of both companies have tumbled over 20% in after-hours trading. It’ll be interesting to see how the markets react when they re-open on Monday.