May 12, 2009 12:52PM

If You Like Fannie Mae, You’ll Love Auto Mac

While Bank of America and Citi grabbed most of the attention in the recently released bank “stress tests” one of the biggest capital holes to be filled is that of GMAC, which under the stress test’s relatively light assumptions will need to raise another $11.5 billion in capital.

As one of the smaller of the stressed tested banks, and having almost no trading and counterparty risk — and hence little or no systemic risk, GMAC would hardly seem the candidate for any additional bailout funds. Were GMAC to fold, our financial markets would hardly notice. Who might notice is our auto manufacturers.

Just as easy credit inflated our housing market, it was easy credit — who can forget 0% financing — that lead the auto sales boom of the early 2000’s. Just as many see Fannie and Freddie — along with help from the Federal Reserve — as leading us to a housing recovery, many also see GMAC as being at the heart of any recovery in the auto industry.

Given the state of the auto industry and the increasing level of defaults on auto loans, the safe bet is that GMAC will have a tough time rasing the needed $11.5 billion from non‐​governmental sources.

Once the government becomes a majority owner of GMAC, its only a matter of time until its focus shifts from re‐​bulding its financial health to expanding the American Dream of auto‐​ownership.