March 5 (Bloomberg) -- Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bondholders shouldn’t assume the government will make them whole on their investments as Congress disbands the companies, House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank said.
The public role of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, as well as the U.S. government’s implied backing of the companies’ $1.7 trillion in debt, should be clarified by lawmakers to remove ambiguity, Frank told reporters after speaking to a conference of black, Hispanic and Asian Realtors in Washington today.
“Please don’t think this is federally guaranteed, I don’t think it is, I don’t think it should be, I don’t feel any obligation to bail you out,” Frank said. Congress will “certainly not” extend any new protections to bond and mortgage-security investors beyond what exists, Frank said.
A “whole range” of options is being considered for investors in the two government-seized companies, “from paying nothing to a haircut to whatever,” said Frank, whose committee oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Frank’s comments pushed the spread on Fannie Mae’s two-year debt wider and prompted a reply from the U.S. Treasury Department, which reiterated its financial support for the companies.