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Freddie Mac 'Risk Manager' Single-Handedly Trying to Keep Economy Going

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The Tyson's Corner Center shopping mall in suburban Northern Virginia sprawls out in gentle deference to the Ritz Carlton luxury hotel situated just behind it. First developed in 1967, one of the first "super-regional" malls in the country, today Tyson's Corner Center offers up 2.4 million square feet of retail space before the foot of the hotel. It's easy to imagine that one day, perhaps a thousand years from now, long after we are gone from this earth, the ruins of the mall and the hotel will provide endless fodder for those engaged in the art of archeological and cultural excavations and explanations. "My theory is these temples were used by the people of that age to worship their god, Ritz Carl," a future scientist will say. Another will disagree. "There's no evidence to support the fact that Ritz Carl was anything other than a minor god compared to, say, Hermes, who we have traced all the way back to Ancient France," she'll say.

Whatever. The reality is that we here in the present understand that the real god is located barely a stone's throw away from the mall, and his name is Freddie Mac (FMCC).

As if to drive this awful point home, the Financial Times earlier this week sent a reporter out to Tyson's Corner Center to drum up "colour" for a piece about the "economic strain" of the consumer. Indeed, colour he found.

First was Ashely, a 24-year-old who had just purchased a pair of shoes from Lord & Taylor. "“This is pretty much the first time I have been shopping in four months and I would usually go shopping every two weeks,” she said. “I wouldn’t even let myself near the mall for months. It just wasn’t worth the pain,"" she told the reporter. Good stuff. Great colour. And a perfect lead-in to the economic statistics of the day:
  • The US economy is expected to have grown at an annualized rate of 2.5 percent in the three months to June.
  • By far the biggest component of US GDP is consumer spending.
  • Personal consumption expenditure – the commerce department’s measure of consumer activity – is expected to have risen by 2.4 percent in the second quarter of 2010.
  • Unemployment is 9.5 percent.
And then, the kicker:

'Indeed, back at Tysons Corner, Mark, a 57-year-old risk manager at nearby Freddie Mac, the government-controlled mortgage company, said there was a lot of uncertainty about jobs and the economy, but he felt secure enough to spend – even lavishly. He said he recently bought a hardtop convertible car for his wife, just returned from Las Vegas, and would soon be heading to Aruba in the Caribbean for a week. “I try to keep the economy going, but one person can’t do it alone,” he says."

Indeed. He can't do it alone. Fortunately, our economy's god, Freddie Mac, has an army of employees fully capable of supporting the efforts of the lone "risk manager," Mark. As of year's end, Freddie Mac employed 5,323 people, according to Bloomberg. I have no idea how many of those are "risk managers," but presumably it's a nice place to work. After all, it's our god, and we own it.
POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.