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NEW YORK (AP) -- Stocks tumbled Friday as investors focused on troubles at mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and watched oil prices climb further into record territory.
Fannie and Freddie at times each lost more than 40 percent on growing speculation that a government bailout is needed. A collapse of the two financiers would cause further shock to the financial system, and trigger more losses to banks and brokerages with significant holdings of mortgage-backed securities.
The pair hold or guarantee around $5 trillion worth of mortgages. That's roughly half of the $9.5 trillion debt of the United States. The fear is that a failure of one or both would wreak havoc on the nation's financial system and the broader economy as well.