Fannie Mae chief Franklin Raines fought back against critics of his company on Friday, saying the mortgage giant does not pose a dangerous threat to the nation's financial system.In a speech at the American Enterprise Institute, Mr. Raines said U.S. consumers would be worse off without the mortgage giant in the secondary market. He also denied that Fannie Mae had engaged in "mission creep" by entering new lines of business. "Fannie Mae principally manages just one asset -- residential mortgages," he said. Over the past two years AEI, a conservative think tank, has held several seminars on the GSEs, lately focusing on ideas about privatizing the congressionally chartered companies. Fannie Mae has roughly $1 trillion in debt. Mr. Raines said that two other federally chartered institutions -- Citigroup and J.P. Morgan Chase/Bank One -- have more liabilities than his company. He said the two megabanks -- "unlike Fannie Mae" -- have "an explicit government guarantee backing up a significant portion of their liabilities." (The liabilities Mr. Raines referred to are federally insured deposits.) Mr. Raines' speech and a question-and-answer session were in progress at MortgageWire's Friday deadline.

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