10:01pm

Fri January 14, 2011
Planet Money

The Friday Podcast: The Frankenstein Mortgage

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The 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage -- the bedrock of American home ownership -- is a weird loan.

In an ordinary market, you'd have to pay a really high interest rate to get a 30-year fixed, if you could get it at all. It was government intervention, through Fannie Mae, that turned the loan into America's plain-vanilla mortgage.

On today's Planet Money, Bethany McLean and Joe Nocera (authors of All the Devils Are Here, a book on the financial crisis) walk us through the 30-year-fixed and the history of Fannie and Freddie. And they talk about where we go from here.

For more:Here's an NYT op-ed where McLean compares a 30-year fixed-rate loan to a "financial Frankenstein's monster." And here's a look at 3 possible scenarios for the U.S. mortgage market.

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