Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Hops or Hay? Are Mortgage Guarantees Worth Only Six Times Beer?

Notes on finances: So the U.S .government is going to support Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the institutions which insure about half the mortgages on housing the country, to the tune of $300 billiion? As Paul Krugman points out, they had nothing to do with the subprime mortgage mess because by definition the mortgages they insure meet very strict requirements. Nevertheless they are caught up in the storm. They “can’t be allowed to fail. With the collapse of subprime lending, they’re now more central than ever to the housing market, and the economy as a whole.”

Three hundred billion dollars ain’t hay, for sure. But its relative size should be measured against another figure tossed around last week: the $52 billion InBev, the Belgian-Brazilian brewer, is going to pay for Anheuser-Busch which controls nearly half the market for beer in the U.S. Does that mean that the health of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac—two pillars of the economy—is worth less than six times a major beermaker?

Elin had 60 Budweiser boxes full of stuff when she moved recently, and beer is the classic thing one offers friends who help one move. But good housing should be valued a lot more highly than 33.3 billion six packs (at $9 US a six pack,) I think.

How much hops would that take, BTW? And what's the futures market for them?

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