Privatization talk sends Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac stocks soaring to 2-year high

Trump's plans for GSEs bump each stock by 45% in one day

With just a few words uttered Wednesday during an interview on Fox Business, Steve Mnuchin, President-elect Donald Trump’s choice to lead the Department of the Treasury, sent the stocks of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac soaring to heights not seen since June 2014.

Mnuchin, a former executive at Goldman Sachs and former chairman of OneWest Bank, said during that interview that “getting Fannie and Freddie out of government ownership” is one of the Trump administration’s top 10 priorities.

Mnuchin said that Trump administration plans to reform the government-sponsored enterprises and then “get them out of government control.”

It’s unclear if that means simply an end to Fannie and Freddie’s conservatorship, returning them to their pre-bailout status, or a true privatization of the GSEs, meaning that the government would no longer provide an implicit guarantee to the mortgages Fannie and Freddie securitize.

Either way, the change to Fannie and Freddie’s status sent the GSEs stocks soaring, with each stock closing more than 45% above their opening price.

Both stocks closed near $4.40, the highest either stock has been since the middle of 2014.

Click the chart below to see a view of Fannie Mae’s stock over the last year.

Fannie Mae stock 2016

(Image courtesy of Yahoo Finance)

As the GSEs are currently structured, the government owns the senior preferred stock in each, with the junior shares still trading on the over-the-counter market.

Each stock has risen in earnest since the election as investors bet that Trump would pursue GSE reform in some form or fashion.

If that happens, the junior shareholders could cash in big-time, especially those that bought Fannie and Freddie when they were at their lowest, somewhere in the neighborhood of $0.20 per share in 2010.

Click the chart below to see a view of Fannie Mae’s stock over the last few years.

Fannie Mae stock since 2012

(Image courtesy of Yahoo Finance)

Wednesday’s closing prices are miles away from those lows, but the stocks still trade well below their pre-crisis prices, which were above $66.

But Mnuchin’s pronouncement that Trump plans to pursue the release of Fannie and Freddie sent each stock through the roof on Wednesday.

If form holds, it will be more of the same when the market opens on Thursday. 

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