The US Federal Reserve has taken the boldest action since the 1930s, accepting $200bn of housing debt as collateral to prevent an implosion of the mortgage finance industry and head off a full-blown economic crisis.
The Fed's dramatic step came after an emergency conference call by governors on Monday night. It followed the melt-down of the US chartered agencies -- Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and other lenders -- which together guarantee 60pc of the entire US home loan market. Fannie Mae's share price fell 19pc in panic trading on Monday after Barron's magazine said it may need a rescue package.
"The agency crisis was a Tsunami event," said Tim Bond, global strategist at Barclays Capital.
"The market was starting to question the solvency of bodies that stand at the top of the credit pile. These agencies together wrap or insure $6 trillion of mortgages. They cannot be allowed to fail because it would cause a financial disaster. The fact that this sector has blown up has caught everybody's attention in Washington," he said.
Right move? Too little too late? Or the wrong strategy all together?