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America's regulators were last night shoring up the country's financial defences, after one of the biggest bank failures in US history sparked fears about the viability of the world's largest mortgage providers.
The Northern Rock-style collapse of California's Indymac Bank, which had assets of $32bn (£16bn), came amid speculation that regulators are also preparing to step in to save the two federally-backed finance houses known as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which together have commitments of $5 trillion, amounting to half of America's mortgage book.