What to do about Fannie and Freddie: Restructure -- or terminate?


Fannie Mae's (FNH) report of a third-quarter loss of $19.76 billion and subsequent plea to the federal government for $15 billion in additional aid is sure to intensify a big question that so far has gone unanswered: What can be done to stem the bleeding at the giant mortgage lender and its sibling Freddie Mac (FRE)? Given this week's bankruptcy filing by CIT, which will probably lead to the loss of $2.3 billion in taxpayer money, Fannie Mae's request for another $15 billion will strike many as throwing more good money after bad.

Fannie Mae had previously posted second-quarter losses of $14.8 billion, on top of $23.2 billion of red ink in the first quarter, leading Morningstar equity analyst Matthew Warren to write in a report: "Nothing fundamentally has changed with the situation at Fannie Mae, and we remain quite certain that the equity shares are worthless barring a ridiculous public policy decision on the part of the U.S. government."