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As the U.S. housing market boomed in the past decade and fueled a bull market in mortgage investments, Norway's government-owned fund went along for the ride -- and the fall.
After that fund recorded its worst-ever year in 2008, managers cited investments backed by U.S. mortgages as a key culprit and began to cut back.
Now, U.S. officials are looking to foreign government funds again. The Federal Reserve is scheduled at the end of March to halt its purchases of mortgage-backed securities, a move that could drive up the low interest rates that have helped the housing market show new signs of life. The Fed is gambling that private investors will step in to buy the securities, helping to keep rates from spiking. Senior officials in the Obama administration and at the Fed say they are counting in part on foreigners to keep the housing market funded.
But financial analysts and advisers familiar with foreign government funds, known as sovereign wealth funds, predicted that the United States will get limited relief from abroad.