Jim Rogers, the famed commodities investor who has repeatedly said he is short all financial stocks, thinks government-backed mortgage lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac should shut their doors.
The Federal Reserve on Sunday — hours ahead of the Asian trading open — said it would back the mortgage giants, which between them hold or finance half of all U.S. home loans.
"These companies were going to go bankrupt if they hadn't stepped in to do something, and they should go bankrupt,'' Rogers told Bloomberg News.
The banks are "basically insolvent" and should be allowed to fail, Rogers said.
That's not likely to happen.
The Fed gave its New York arm the authority to lend to the banks at 2.25 percent, the rate Wall Street gets, if need be. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said the government would expand credit and even invest in the companies if necessary.
"Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac play a central role in our housing finance system and must continue to do so in their current form as shareholder-owned companies," Paulson told reporters Sunday.
"Their support for the housing market is particularly important as we work through the current housing correction."
Rogers says taxpayers will have to come up with the money to save Fannie and Freddie, which hold or finance half of the $12 trillion U.S. mortgage market.
This comes on top of $400 billion already spent to rescue private investment bank Bear Stearns, Rogers warned earlier this month.
"If the system is so fragile that the collapse of the fifth-largest investment bank in America could bring the whole thing down, what’s going to happen in a few years when the No. 2 or No. 1 banks go bad?" Rogers asked.
In the earlier commentary, Rogers said he was short all financial stocks through an exchange-traded fund (ETF).
"I'm short on the investment bank ETF, which means I’m short on all of them," Rogers said then.
"Some of these companies have horrendous balance sheets."
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