Place your bets here

OK, let's start placing bets about how much this Fannie/Freddie bailout is really going to cost.

But before you chime in down in the comments section, let's revisit a bit of history:  When the credit markets seized up in August of last year, forecasts began issuing from the lips and laser printers of analysts about the total amount of losses and write-downs that would ensue.  The most common figure cited at the time was $200 billion.

We're already up to $507 billion as of this weekend.  And the smorgasbord of forecasts compiled by Addison and Ian at the 5 Min. Forecast range from those so low they're already out of date to a high of $2 trillion from Nouriel Roubini.

Now… as far as Fannie and Freddie go, the common figure cited in news coverage this weekend is — shades of deja vu — $200 million!  (Cue the Twilight Zone theme.)

But wait… Former St. Louis Fed President William Poole has emerged from his hawk's nest to immediately up that figure to $300 billion.  Do I hear $400?  $400 billion?  $400 billion for this exquisite collection of Fannie and Freddie paper?

And while we're at it, a couple of other miscellaneous questions:

1.  Does it seem more ominous now than ever that Hank Paulson is walking away from the Treasury as soon as the election's over, instead of hanging around till Inauguration Day?

2.  Anyone find it curious that the Fannie/Freddie bailout coincided with — and overshadowed — the news of a bank failure in Nevada, a bank whose board included John McCain's son?  Just askin'.