Saturday, July 10, 2010

Actions should be shaped by beliefs and values

Actions should be shaped by beliefs and values, not emotions. When investors understand volatility, they can manage market movements better and make better decisions. They can steer their financial ship with confidence, rather than sitting powerless and being pushed around by the market’s powerful tides.

Index Summary
The major market indices were higher this week. The Dow Jones Industrial Index rose 5.28 percent.
The S&P 500 Stock Index gained 5.41 percent, while the Nasdaq Composite finished 5.00 percent higher.
Barra Growth underperformed Barra Value as Barra Value finished 5.57 percent higher while Barra Growth rose 5.25 percent. The Russell 2000 closed the week with a gain of 5.09 percent.
The Hang Seng Composite finished higher by 2.99 percent; Taiwan was up 4.32 percent and the Kospi advanced 3.06 percent.
The 10-year Treasury bond yield closed at 3.05 percent, up 9 basis points for the week.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Geithner indicates good news on taxes for capital gains and dividends

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said the White House wants to keep the top tax rate on dividends and capital gains at a proposed 20%.

The rate is 15%, so 20% would be a large increase, but it would be less than the 39.6% rate congressional Democrats want for dividends.

The Wall Street Journal

Optimizing Social Security: It's More Complicated Than You Think

Christine Benz of Morningstar suggests (for full article click on heading - a must read)deferring the collection of Social Security benefits as long as you least until 70 years of age if practical.

Rally in Stocks Starts Now

Ninety-eight percent of the time, when we've been in this situation, stocks end up higher three months later.

By "this situation" I mean when investor pessimism is high…

When pessimism is high, it's time to buy.

Right now, only 21% of individual investors are bullish on stocks, according to the latest weekly survey by the American Association of Individual Investors. That's "one of the lowest readings in the last 15 years," says my friend Jason Goepfert, who tracks these things at his website: SentimenTrader.

According to Jason, stocks were up an average 8.5% three months after hitting bullish readings of 21% or lower. That's data going back to 2003. Going back to 1987, this indicator has been at 21% or below just 47 times. And 46 out of 47 times (98% of the time), stocks were higher three months later.

When you combine that pessimism with Wednesday's 3% "up" move, you've got a recipe for a big rally. Jason said, "When we get a buying surge like yesterday, coming off a multi-month low, it has usually led to dramatic gains long term."

Stocks are a great value right now, particularly in relation to interest rates. Your money earns nothing in the bank, but you get paid a 5% dividend to own stocks like Pfizer.

Pfizer, for just one example, trades at a forward P/E ratio of 6.5. What that means is, if you bought that business privately, the earnings of the business would pay off your entire investment in 6.5 years – and all the rest of your earnings out to infinity would be "free."

That is crazy. You never get buys like that. And drug stocks like Pfizer aren't the only cheap sector… Big banks (like Citigroup and Bank of America) trade at single-digit forward P/Es. And so do big oil companies (like Exxon and Chevron).

My point is, many blue-chip stocks are super cheap. Based on the latest poll of individual investors, stocks are hated now. And with Wednesday's 3% move, it could be the start of the uptrend – the start of "dramatic gains" as Jason Goepfert described it.

Kitco just came out with a new investment product for rhodium. Why rhodium? What's the appeal for investors?

John nadler of KITCO explains in an interview linked above ( click on the heading)

Platinum group metals, as a niche (and as opposed to gold), are endowed with decent fundamentals. They've got a tenuous supply of metal, coming primarily out of South Africa and Russia, and decent demand from their primary usage in autocatalysts. These make sense as part of the global economic recovery story. You're talking about a sector (automotive applications) that nobody has figured out substitutions or new technologies for. If the crisis doesn't completely throw the world into a second recessionary dip, then the fundamentals argue that these metals have not only been neglected, but also underpriced.

With rhodium, we looked at even more of a tight market. It's a tiny market of 900,000 ounces per annum, and one where carmakers can't substitute with cheaper metal, because it is the only such noble metal that can remove the nitrous oxide from tailpipe emissions. When you add that together, you get a good picture, especially as the U.S. and European carmakers come out of their "car recessions." And then there's China and India, who are in the driver's seat in the recovery of auto sales.

It's also a market that doesn't have futures or options trading available at the moment. But because of that, it's a bit thinner and a bit more volatile, and the spreads are wider. But it doesn't mean that an individual investor cannot participate in it. Our situation was that we had pool accounts in rhodium for years, but we saw increasing interest from investors for this in the longer- to medium-term trade, three to five years. So since it's really costly and difficult to create 1 ounce coins, we decided to take the really basic refined material (called "sponge"—a gray powder, really) that the refiners use and literally bottle it, seal it and put it into safekeeping with a custodian.

It's not for everyone, by any means. You should definitely understand the market and where the supply and the demand come from. But as a recovery play, and as a medium-term speculative play, I think it deserves a closer look.

So what is the "right" price for gold?

John Nadler of KITCO( click on title for full article) opines:

Of course, now we've heard that such a price should be anywhere between $8,000 and even $15,000, but I still think that between $680 and $880, or in that range, gold would be much more in balance with its fundamentals.

Eight hundred is a number that you saw come up in the GFMS surveys as a potential target, and they gave it up to two years (even with the potential overshoot of up to $1,320).

Yeah, that could still happen, but it's all a cycle, a phase in the markets. It's currently driven by a circumstance (Europe), but not some "new dynamic" (a return to a gold-based world) that has suddenly become the new paradigm.

You also have had Barclays Wealth Management coming out, saying they envision $800 gold by January 2012, and saying in an interview on that they're "shorting the GLD and buying put options on gold for Jan 2012."

Further, what am I to make of Societe Generale, which also said in April of this year that $800 gold is in the cards before the end of 2010? And so on; I am not alone in computing such figures.

How Government idiocy steals future prosperity for all: The Underfunded Pension scandal

The fix for all underfunded pension liabilities (Scial Security included) is to use a realistic assumption for return on investment. Thomas DeMarco, CFA, FCM Market Strategist in a Market Note today discusses this in some detail.

His analysis is to the point and a must read for all citizens concerned about their financial future and that of their children:

"In a recent Market Note I highlighted the abysmal condition of State pensions and the inappropriate (my opinion) discount rate used to measure those liabilities. At the risk of being overly repetitive I thought I would highlight a few items from another report on the topic, this one titled ‘Valuing Liabilities in State and Local Plans’ from the Center for Retirement Research (CFRR; Boston College).

1. The author agrees that the generic 8% assumed rate of return on investments is inappropriate to PV pension liabilities and instead argue for use of a risk free rate. The paper succinctly raised the following points: “…adopting a riskless rate has clear advantages: it would accurately reflect the guaranteed nature of public sector benefits; it would increase the credibility of public sector accounting with private sector analysts; and it could well forestall unwise benefit increaseswhen
the stock market soars” . I can’t stress the last two points enough.

2. Furthermore, “Benefits promised under a public plan are accorded a higher degree of protection than those under a private sector plan because, under the laws of most states, the sponsor cannot close down the plan for current participants”. Investors should pay attention to this as a recent issue of The Economist bluntly points out that several state constitutions (including Illinois and NY) make state pensions senior to bond debt.

3. In my prior note I mentioned that pension benefit obligations were no longer a distant worry – that a peak in obligations was coming around 2020 (only 10yrs from now).
4. To hammer the point about accurately measuring liabilities and forestalling unwise benefit increases the author points to CalPERS as a poster child: “in 1999, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) reported that assets equaled 128 percent of liabilities, and the California legislature enhanced the benefits of both current and future employees. It reduced the retirement age, increased benefit accrual rates, and shortened the salary base for benefits to the final year’s salary. If CalPERS liabilities had been valued at the riskless rate,the
plan would have been only 88 percent funded. An accurate reporting of benefits to liabilities would avoid this type of expansion for current employees” (emphasis mine).

5. The author also brings up the point that the discipline of making state and local governments pay the annual costs discourages governments from awarding “excessively generous pensions in lieu of current wages”. I agree in theory, but the problem is a number of states/localities do not make the required annual payments and some even use the most brazen gimmickry to make said “payments” that bondholders should be insulted, repulsed, and afraid (I am thinking of a recent New York proposal to allow the state and municipalities to borrow about $6B from the state pension fund to, wait for it, make their payments to the same fund!).

6. The authors did point out one system that appears to be run more conservatively (outside of the discount rate question): Florida. “Despite being more than fully funded from 1998 through 2006, Florida succeeded in restraining benefit increases through statutory stabilization methods. Article X of the Florida constitution, passed in 1976, requires that any proposed benefit increase must be accompanied by actuarially sound funding provisions. The subsequent addition of Part VII of
Chapter 112 of the Florida statutes stipulates that total contributions must cover both the normal cost and an amount sufficient to amortize the unfunded liability over no more than 40 years. What is more, the combination of an employee’s pension and Social Security benefits cannot exceed 100 percent of final salary. As a result of this legislation, Florida has not increased benefits substantially since the late 1970s”.

Its far past the time for State Legislatures and the Congress to take the obvious lessons from this and reform all Government pension practises.

Gold and silver push to fresh highs

10:22 COMDX

Gold now up $17.70 to $1213.80; silver is higher by 31.3 cents to $18.185

Thursday, July 8, 2010

• Behind the gold takedown… central banks

Mystery solved. We think.

Given the news cycle and the buying habits of the world’s central banks of late, we’ve been wondering why gold has traded down nearly $40 bucks from its near-historic high last Thursday. And has stayed there…

Today, we believe, despite becoming net buyers of gold for the first year since 1988, central banks are “pawning” that gold at the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) -- the central bankers’ central bank -- and helping to depress the price.

“When Reserve Bank of India bought 200 tonnes of International Monetary Fund (IMF) gold in November last year,” confirms a report from International Business Times, “the bullion market received one of the biggest boosts ever and the gold prices soared in the subsequent weeks to new record heights. Reason for this was that all central banks across the globe have been increasing their gold holdings fearing the recession looming large over the world.”

Commercial banks, too, appeared to be getting into the game. For individual buyers of the yellow metal, the arrival of the big global institutions signaled the next phase of a sustained bull market in gold that would, in turn, vindicate years of nail-biting insecurity and the endurance of hushed cocktail party snickers.
Why then the reversal in the price over this past week?

While it’s not clear if India’s is among them, central banks have swapped 349 metric tons of the yellow metal with the BIS, according to The Wall Street Journal -- 82% of all the gold that central banks snapped up last year.
In exchange, the BIS has handed out $14 billion in paper cash, agreeing to sell the gold back to the central banks sometime in the future, just like your friendly neighborhood tattoo parlor/pawnshop.
“At this rate,” IBT asserts “the BIS holdings represent the biggest gold swap in history.”
As you well know, “gold is often regarded as a protection against inflation and is thought to benefit from the inflationary impact of governments’ economic stimulus packages. It has also been used as a haven against another financial meltdown.”
The fear is now if banks that lent their gold are for any reason unable to make good on the loan, “the BIS could opt to sell the gold in order to get its money back, which would amount to flooding the market with an unexpected boost to the global supply.”

Worth keeping an eye on.

Mid-Year Update: Taxation should be about raising the maximum amount of revenue for the government in the least economically disruptive way.

Equities of all persuasion saw mid-year losses after a first quarter surge.


Year-to-date (1/1/10-07/02/10)*
Dow Jones Indus Avg. -7.38%
S&P 500 -8.44%
NASDAQ -7.96%
Russell 2000 -4.23%
MSCI World Index -11.33%
DJ STOXX Europe 600 -6.55%

Year-to-date (1/1/10-07/01/10)
90 Day T-Bill 0.09%
2-Year Treasury 1.46%
10-Year Treasury 5.91%
ML High Yield Index 2.79%
JPM EMBI Global Diversified 5.40%
JP Morgan Global Hedged 4.42%

Year-to-date (1/1/10-07/01/10)
U.S. $ / Euro (1.26) -11.9%
U.S. $ / British Pound (1.52) -6.2%
Yen / U.S. ($ 87.74) -5.7%
Gold ($/oz) ($1,210.68) 10.4%
Oil ($72.01) -9.3%

*Returns reported as of 9:15 a.m. Pacific Standard Time

What accounts for the second quarter downturn?

Various theories are being put forward.
One is that corporations are pulling pro fits forward into 2010 to avoid the higher taxes coming in 2011. Yes, it is still possible to manipulate earnings despite Sarbanes-Oxley, you just have to be smarter than before.
Another possible reason for the decline is the fear of a double dip recession starting early next year. This is supported in part by numerous factors including robbing 2011 results by the earnings manipulations described above, expiration of the Federal economic stimulus (yes, even bad stimulus has some effect on the economy) and uncertainty arising from the fallout expected from the financial reform legislation now pending in Congress and the actual fallout from the health care legislation.
Finally, there is the expectation that corporate earnings and competitive position internationally will be negatively affected by the higher corporate tax rates
in 2011. The often repeated mantra that ‘the more you tax something the less of it you get’ is running into opposition by the Obama administration which is more concerned with ‘fairness’.
Taxation should be about raising the maximum amount of revenue for the government in the least economically disruptive way. Fairness should be addressed on the spending side of the ledger. To mix the two politicizes revenue raising and invites special interests to corrupt the taxation process with social engineering thereby doing greater harm to the economy.

Individual investors have still to be heard from since they are expected to take profits on their holdings before year-end to avoid higher tax rates.
Such individuals may well opt to sit on the cash proceeds from such tax sales until the outlook clarifies. This will only add to short term market weakness.

Despite the fact that Congress seems to be playing a losing hand, they seem unlikely to change course before the November elections.
Should the Democrats lose control of the House of Representatives, we can expect a major market rally since a stalemated Congress would be a welcome relief for the markets.
This may be short lived, however, since a lame duck Congress may well try to finish their agenda before leaving office (think carbon tax or a VAT). In short, equities don’t look promising between now and November and don’t look all that great for next year.

A healthy position in cash and gold still look like safe bets.

Interest Rate Outlook

At mid-year we see ten year Treasuries below 3% and thirty year Treasuries below 4%.

What would possess an asset manager to buy 30 year Treasuries with a locked in yield of 4% when the outlook for inflation over the next few years promises to make this a loosing proposition if not a disastrous one?

The only answer I can devise is fear and special situations.

Fear by those who have gotten burned in the financial crisis and therefore consider credit risk in the short term more important than market risk over the longer term.

Special situation buyers include insurance companies who are matching long term
payout commitments on annuities with the interest payments on the Treasuries.
Other special situation players would be hedge funds playing the carry trade game where they buy these Treasuries with short term loans at 25 basis points. It is this group who represent the greatest threat to the interest rate outlook since they
will unload their positions en masse the moment they see a turn in rates.
This is why I feel an interest rate rise will come suddenly and not be dependant on actual inflation. It may in fact be a cause of the inflation.

Considerable media attention has been given to the municipal bond market in recent weeks.
We see yields on ten year AAA munis going from 3.91% at year end 2008 to 3.25% at year end 2009 to 3.13% at mid-year 2010.
Much of this decline is due to the high demand for tax free munis by individual investors in high tax states as well as generally, given the pending tax rate rises in 2011.
The decline in muni yields is also influenced by the continued perception that munis are safe because they have always been so. This perception is due some re-evaluation.

Municipalities have rarely faced the kind of budget pressures they are experiencing today because of the revenue declines resulting from the recession. Added to this is the retirement of government employed baby boomers, whose pension liabilities have gone mostly unfunded.

This is an increase in current expenditures which is not discretionary and growing rapidly. It promises to create a budget crisis at the city and county level since these entities now face a cash expense they can no longer ignore.
Warren Buffet, who rushed into the bond insurance business during the financial crisis has since backed away. He notes that in the coming budget crunch, municipalities will likely stiff insurers or bondholders before firing employees. Bankruptcy filings may also prove to be more palatable politically than cutting services.
In any case, don’t think that past history is the best indication of what the future holds for municipal bonds.

Thanks to Richard Lehmann at and Payden & Rygel []for the data tables

The New Trend - Asia ascendant

Get long Asia.

The long-term case for owning Asian assets versus assets in the U.S. and Western Europe is simple. Over the past 40 years, the Western world has cooked up a hellish stew of huge, unfunded entitlement programs, monstrous government debts, and vast populations who've adopted the "something for nothing" way of life. This produces a headwind for stock and property prices.

Asia isn't burdened with parasitic welfare states. Most Asians are poor… but they're working and saving like crazy in order to catch up to the rich Westerners they see on TV and YouTube. This produces a tailwind for stock and property prices.

Singapore sits in the center of Asian trade. It's one of the world's top-five financial centers. It's home to the world's largest water port. Most importantly, it's considered the world's easiest place to set up and conduct business.

While stocks of all kinds are suffering through massive selling pressure right now, EWS sits comfortably near a new 52-week high. Expect this "Asia up, the West not so much" trend to continue for decades.

You can see this uptrend at work with this chart Click on the heading above). It shows the price action in the Singapore investment fund (EWS).

Gold will soar - heres why

From Richard Russell in Dow Theory Letters:
learn more about Dow Theory Letters here

...As I've said a thousand times, Fed Chief Bernanke will absolutely not accept deflation...

Shrewd gold-accumulators are well aware of [this]. As the deflationary and deleveraging forces press on the US economy, the Bernanke Fed is ready to devalue the US dollar in its ("whatever it takes") battle to hold back deflation.

Let's boil the whole thing down to three sentences.

(1)The Fed will not tolerate the growing forces of deflation.

(2) To combat the deflationary forces, the Fed will devalue the dollar by printing trillions more of Federal fiat money.

(3) Once it is realized that the Fed is on the path to devalue the dollar, there will be a panic to buy and own gold.

Government not true to its Founding Principles?

Rather than remaining true to its founding principles, successive leaderships have led the country deeper and deeper into foreign entanglements, and further and further down the road of populism of the sort that has left Europe gasping for breath.
The situation has now reached a crossroads. In one direction, the direction we here at Casey Research steadily advocate, there is real hope. That hope is based on remembering the principles of self-reliance that made America so economically powerful in its early career – a haven with a relatively short list of reasonable laws and regulations, administered by a minimal bureaucracy supported by a modest and simplified tax code.
Economic historian Niall Ferguson recently commented on the surprising lack of dialogue about this path in America. You can, and should, watch this video by clicking on the headline above.

The Gold Bull market

The U.S. turned 234 years old yesterday, and yet over half of the nation's money supply was created since Helicopter Ben took over the flight controls four years ago. No wonder gold is in a full fledged bull market.
David A. Rosenberg, Chief Economist & Strategist, Gluskin Sheff & Associates Inc.

Allstate CEO Says State Borrowing 'Out of Control

This should be no surprise to you, dear reader. “Nobody has the intestinal fortitude to actually move forward to try to change anything,” CEO Wilson said of government debt at the federal, state and local levels. “They’re just sort of sitting there waiting for disaster to happen.” And disaster is exactly what they're going to get.

Read the whole story here:
or just click on the headline above

Recovery does not require more stimulus, Fed officials say

Thomas Hoenig, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, and Richard Fisher, head of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, indicated that although economic growth is cooling, more stimulus is not necessary. Hoenig also reiterated his stance that the Fed should increase its key interest rate to 1% to keep inflation at bay and counter the threat of asset-price bubbles. Meanwhile, Fisher said additional asset purchases by the Fed are not needed.

Yes Mr Hoenig, it is time for the Fed to stop buying financial assets and to start buying real assets... try real property so that the Dollar is backed by something in addition to gold.

China won't flee U.S. debt and shift to gold, a regulator says

China will not use its $2.45 trillion in foreign reserves to pressure other nations and has no intention of dumping U.S. Treasury securities, the State Administration of Foreign Exchange said. "Any increase or decrease in our holdings of US Treasuries is a normal investment operation," according to a statement from the foreign exchange regulator. The agency said China is a long-term investor that "doesn't seek the power to control recipients of its investment."
Were his fingers crossed behind his back as he made this statement?
Click on the headline to see a full story

Fed worries about economic slowdown, considers taking a stimulus role

The U.S. Federal Reserve is considering taking a stronger role in boosting economic growth, with Congress deadlocked on how to cope with a troubling slowdown. Options being weighed include buying more mortgage securities and cutting interest paid to banks that are putting funds on deposit with the central bank from 0.25% to zero, giving financial institutions more incentive to loan.
The Washington Post.

As usual the Federal Government is culpablly and dangerously late in diagnosing the problem. Of course banks are not lending to the public.

They would be sued for imprudent business practises by shareholder activists. After all, it is the height of managerial irresponsibility to make loans to risky borrowers when a risk free, high profit margin alternative borrower - The US Treasury - is panting at the door.

No, Mr Geithner, any first year MBA student will identify correctly that the problem is NOT the interest rate paid to banks, it is the very incentive to replace bad mortgage assets with pristine capital so regulatory capital levels are acceptable.

Until the real problem, which is the continual drop in value of the real estate collateral that is the bulk of assets of lending institutions is addressed this kind of Govertnment meddling will make the problem worse and worse.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Avertible catastrophe

This is from The Financial Post of Canada.Full story linked above.

Lawrence Soloman makes the case ( I find it very plausible) that the contamination from the BP oil spill disaster was entirely avoidable.

The implication is that BP is responsible for the rig explosion and its consequences, but the US Federal Government headed by Barack Obama is culpable in the disaster that the contamination has caused on the Gulf Coast.

Lawrence maintains that the bulk of the contamination could have been avoided by taking up the Dutch offer of FREE equipment and expertise that was offered immediately the spill extent was known.

Had we accepted the help there would likely have been little or no oil reaching shore.

Lawrence maintains that side political issues prompted the US to refuse the offers of help and that refusal is the proximate cause of the vast contamination that subsequently occurred.

He is probably right. In an emergency I want the people with the expertise to put the fire out. I want them on the spot as soon as possible...the very last thing I want is a political intervention. Remember Nero?

He fiddled while Rome burned. Just like our emperor.

DOW up 2.82% or nearly 275 points!


3-month Market Momentum is trending UP and getting stronger;
3-week Market Momentum is trending UP and getting stronger;
Short term momentum is currently supporting this momentum trend

The Fearless ultra-short term forecast is for The Market to continue present trend
The Fearless short term forecast is for The Market to continue present trend

Price is UP and Volume is UP.

We have a first tentative BUY signal for tomorrow ( it triggered on the close today)

Lets see if there is any follow through tomorrow.

Answer to the financial crisis is less regulation, an economist says

Forrest Capie, professor emeritus of economic history at the Cass Business School, said government officials and regulators dealing with the financial crisis should find inspiration from the 19th century. "The story I have to tell you is a story of caution, depression and the world of debt," Capie said. "Caution is the big lesson to be learnt from the financial crisis, and the other is there is nothing new." He said the answer to the crisis is not over-regulation but an appropriate, proportionate application of regulation. magazine

Young workers' jobless rate in the U.S. is reminiscent of the 1930s

A bleak reality awaits young Americans trying to get into the workforce, with 14% not finding a job and 23% not even trying anymore. The total, 37% without employment, is in a range that the U.S. hasn't seen since the 1930s.
The New York Times

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The US stimulus resembles the ineffective Japan model. Same Results inevitable?

From the Financial Times:

Fiscal stimulus was equivalent to 4.4 per cent of world growth last year but will amount to a negative 1.6 per cent next year, according to data from JPMorgan. “Beyond the current quarter, growth momentum will be coming down as fiscal policy moves from net stimulus to drag,” the bank’s recent Global Data Watch warns …

Still, the problem with much of the fiscal policy is about substance as well as scale. How is it possible to spend almost $800bn and not have more lasting effects to show for it?

Unfortunately, the US fiscal spending plan more closely resembles that of Japan than China – and is likely to have the same minimal or even counter-productive impact

American citizens are increasingly voting with their feet. In Hong Kong, so many US passport holders fear the deluge of US taxes that will inevitably follow the spending binge that it can now apparently take as much as 11 months to secure an appointment at the US consulate to surrender US citizenship.

And the conclusion drawn:
Given the lack of lasting effects from the US stimulus other than a huge tax bill down the (poorly paved) road, the lines at the consulate in Hong Kong are likely to get longer.

Earnest Hemingway on solving our problems

The first panacea for a mismanaged nation is inflation of the currency; the second is war. Both bring a temporary prosperity; both bring a permanent ruin. But both are the refuge of political and economic opportunists. - Earnest Hemmingway

Analysis: China makes progress in turning yuan into global currency

China is moving systematically toward its goal of becoming a major force in the financial system by expanding the role of the yuan to become a global currency, according to Reuters. The nation extended a pilot program to allow importers and exporters to settle international transactions in the yuan. The government is creating opportunities to invest within China using the yuan, including yuan-denominated corporate bonds and insurance policies. Reuters

The idea of disbanding Fannie and Freddie raises questions

U.S. government officials and housing experts are discussing the idea of eliminating or overhauling Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Either move would cause significant change for the banking system, and they also prompt the question of who will step in to buy mortgage-backed securities if Fannie and Freddie are not guaranteeing the mortgage payments. CNBC