Early Briefing: An Early Christmas Gift For Feds
* Woo hoo, a four-day holiday!
President Bush has issued an executive order closing the federal government on Christmas Eve, a Monday. All employees are excused from duty, except those who agencies deem are necessary for national security, defense or other public need. See Steve Barr's Federal Diary.
* For a glimpse of the risks that infected the mortgage business in recent years, consider how McLean's Freddie Mac allowed borrowers to take out second loans to cover the traditional downpayment. The two loans allowed borrowers to avoid federal regulation that require Freddie to only buy first-loan mortgages that cover no more than 80 percent of home value -- unless the loan comes with a safety net, such as an insurance policy that would kick in if a borrower defaults. See story.
* Lots of folks who saved and did not get swept away by the housing hysteria are plenty mad the government now wants to bail out the mortgage industry. See story.
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