A number, like a picture, can be worth 1,000 words. In England, 1066 means the Norman Conquest. The world over, 3.14159 screams pi.
For Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the figure to remember is 79.9 -- the percent ownership that the U.S. Treasury took in each when it seized control in 2008. If the stakes were 80 percent, the mortgage companies would land on the federal budget, as we’re reminded in “Guaranteed to Fail,” a valuable book on how two quasi-public companies became “the world’s largest and most leveraged hedge funds.”