And So It Goes

When the government first proposed its tax rebate scheme last January, many were quick to point out the money was not ultimately, despite the signature on the check, a payment from the US government, but a loan from abroad, largely from Japan and China. Now that we can confidently anticipate the consensus will quickly form around the presumptive necessity of a bailout of that economically distressed couple Freddie and Fannie, it’s worth noting who is ultimately being bailed out here:

The top five foreign holders of Freddie and Fannie long-term debt are China, Japan, the Cayman Islands, Luxembourg, and Belgium. In total foreign investors hold over $1.3 trillion in these agency bonds, according to the U.S. Treasury’s most recent “Report on Foreign Portfolio Holdings of U.S. Securities.”
FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe commented, “The prospectus for every GSE bond clearly states that it is not backed by the United States government. That’s why investors holding agency bonds already receive a significant risk premium over Treasuries.”
“A bailout at this stage would be the worst possible outcome for American taxpayers and mortgage holders, who have been paying a risk premium to these foreign investors. It would change the rules of the game retroactively and would directly subsidize the risks taken by sophisticated foreign investors.”
“A bailout of GSE bondholders would be perhaps the greatest taxpayer rip-off in American history. It is bad economics and you can be sure it is terrible politics.”

I’m not so sure about that last sentence. Define “terrible politics.” The divergence of political necessity and good policy has never more operative than in our current moment. Interesting times. Via Mish’s Global Economic Trend Analysis