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‘Frannie’ bailout makes money cheaper, not easier

Interest rates already down on takeover

The government takeover of mortgage financiers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac could mean lower interest rates for many borrowers but is unlikely to solve one of the biggest problems of the credit crunch: the shrinking number of people who can get a loan in the first place. Fannie and Freddie will be permitted to expand their direct investments in mortgage-backed securities from $1.5 trillion to $1.7 trillion over the next year. With the government standing behind their debts, investors are also expected to be more willing to buy mortgage-backed securities guaranteed by Fannie and Freddie. That could push the rate for a 30-year fixed-rate conforming mortgage down from 6.35 percent last week to "well below" 6 percent, according to Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Economy.com. Rates are already coming down to around 6 percent today, but it will take 30 to 45 days to get a sense of how the takeover will ultimately affect rates, said John Courson, chief operating o...