The Crumbling of Fannie Mae

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Fannie Mae may be about to crumble. Dan Denning sends us this note:

"Accounting problems at Fannie Mae may not be restricted to Fannie Mae. It could be systemic. And a snowball may be about to crush the whole mortgage-lending industry.

"Gretchen Morgenson of the New York Times: u2018Most of the mortgages underwritten in the nation today use automated programs designed by Fannie Mae…Fannie Mae is probably not alone in playing fast and loose with financial reality. That there is software out there designed to let corporate users manipulate figures to get whatever they desire certainly indicates that other companies want to obfuscate, too.’"

On Saturday night, we stood in a garden in Venice, after the wedding. Venice has a few beautiful gardens — but not many. The town is built on the water; when the tide comes in, you can get your feet wet without leaving your living room. The water comes in under the front door.

But the Hotel Abadessa has a charming little garden that made a delightful spot for a reception. Candles were set up here and there. And a few lights over the liquor table. But the brightest, sweetest light came at no expense and required no wiring: from the moon. Almost full, the moon seemed to smile upon the wedding party; at least, that is what we would like to believe, for there was no switch to turn it off!

“How does the moon affect markets…or the rest of life?” we wondered aloud, in the vicinity of a friend.

“Well, they’ve done a lot of studies. The moon does seem to have an effect on stock market volatility, I think. But I haven’t seen any reliable trading systems based on lunar cycles.

“There is no doubt it has an effect on people. People in nuthouses seem to get stirred up when the moon is full. That’s why they call them lunatics. Babies are born. Old timers plant their gardens according to the moon. People fall in love…and so forth. We can’t quite explain the effect of the moon…but we can’t escape it, either.

“You know, you keep writing about how there are certain rules…or principles…that cause things to happen even if you don’t want them to happen…and even if you do everything you can to prevent them from happening. As you might say in French, merde happens.

“But good things happen, too — things so good you can scarcely believe it, things that we never created and can’t control…the best things, really. Like the moon. Or like falling in love. Or sex. Who invented sex?

“You know, now I get all these e-mails offering to make sex better. You probably get them too. They want to add inches to my private parts…or give me a better orgasm or more orgasms. I don’t get it, because it’s already so nice I can hardly believe it. I feel like leaving well enough alone. ‘Better sex’ seems to me either impossible or ungrateful. As if you thought you could improve one of God’s greatest gifts.

“But people do think they are like the gods themselves…that they can write the laws and make the rules…that they can buy low and sell high…borrow expensive money and pay back cheap money…and that if they are just smart enough, they’ll be able to get away with anything. You know, getting rich without working and so forth.

“But, then, there’s that moon….”

Hurricanes in Florida are said to have cost the economy of the state $25 billion, according to recent estimates.

Many economists and talking heads think this will be a "stimulus" for the economy. A clever reader wrote to say that if hurricanes stimulate the economy, terrorist attacks should be good for it too. Here, another reader picks up the theme:

“The reader from Florida who suggested u2018we abandon all our anti-terrorist activities worldwide’ so that u2018when the terrorists start blowing up targets around the country, there will be a great stimulus of the economy as we rebuild’ did not go far enough with their thinking. Obviously, our military will be underemployed after we abandon our anti-terrorist efforts, so why not have them blow up things in the United States? Not only would the resulting rebuilding effort be a great long-run stimulus for the economy, you’d have the short-term effect of more JOBS!”

Today’s Daily Telegraph tells us that the mother church of England is annoyed with its American Episcopalian cousins. The Episcopalians must "repent," says the article, for having ordained a homosexual bishop, or it may be kicked out of the Anglican church community…

Bill Bonner [send him mail] is the author, with Addison Wiggin, of Financial Reckoning Day: Surviving the Soft Depression of The 21st Century.

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