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Government Sponsored Enterprise
A privately held or publicly traded company created by the U.S. Government for some purpose thought to benefit the American economy. For example, Freddie Mac was originally a GSE created to encourage homeownership among middle class and working class Americans. Because it is "sponsored" but not owned by the government, GSE stocks carry higher risk than, say, Treasury securities, which are backed by the full faith and credit of the United States. However, GSEs have an implicit guarantee that the government will not allow them to fail. Indeed, when Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac collapsed in 2008 they almost instantly received federal assistance.