Fannie, Freddie May Lose Top Credit Rating

July 18, 2011

Standard & Poor’s cautioned Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that they may lose their top credit ratings if lawmakers don’t soon raise the government’s borrowing limit to avoid default.

The S&P also said that the government-sponsored enterprises could potentially default on their debts since they are so reliant on the U.S. government for funding. Fannie and Freddie own or guarantee about half of all U.S. mortgages.

Congress is frantically trying to come up with a solution to raise the $14.3 trillion borrowing limit to avoid a default by an Aug. 2 deadline. If they are unable to come up with a compromise, analysts say it could have a devastating effect on the U.S. economy, particularly the already fragile housing market.

If the government defaulted on its bonds, the government likely would have to raise interest rates dramatically, which in turn would hamper home ownership, analysts say.

Source: “S&P Warns it May Downgrade Fannie, Freddie Credit,” Associated Press (July 15, 2011)