March 21, 2009 in Nation/World

Plan for toxic assets gains details

Announcement expected Monday
Martin Crutsinger Associated Press
 

A three-pronged approach

Part one: Use the bailout fund to create a public-private partnership to back private investors’ purchases of bad assets.

Part two: Expand a recently launched Federal Reserve program – which provides loans for investors to buy assets backed by consumer debt in an effort to make it easier for consumers to get auto, student and credit card loans – to support investors’ purchases of banks’ toxic assets.

Part three: Utilize FDIC resources to purchase toxic assets.

WASHINGTON – Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner could announce as soon as Monday his much-anticipated plan to get toxic assets off the books of the country’s struggling banks, administration and industry officials said.

The plan will use the Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. to make the resources of the government’s $700 billion financial rescue fund go further, the officials said Friday.

Geithner is being forced to tap the Fed and the FDIC for support because the prospects for getting additional money from Congress for the bailout effort have dimmed significantly given the recent uproar over millions of dollars in bonuses provided to troubled insurance giant American International Group Inc., the largest recipient of government support.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about Geithner’s plan, said it will have three major parts.

One program will use the bail- out fund to create a public-private partnership to back purchases of bad assets by private investors.

A second portion of the plan will expand a recently launched program being run by the Federal Reserve called the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility, or TALF. That program is providing loans for investors to buy assets backed by consumer debt in an effort to make it easier for consumers to get auto, student and credit card loans. Under Geith- ner’s proposal, this program would be expanded to support investors’ purchases of banks’ toxic assets.

The third part of the Geithner plan would utilize the resources of the FDIC, the agency that guarantees bank deposits, to purchase toxic assets.

When Geithner announced the administration’s overhaul of the financial rescue program on Feb. 10, he was vague on details. The initial proposal was widely panned by investors, who were disappointed in a lack of specifics. The Dow Jones industrial average tumbled 380 points on the day the original program was announced.

The effort to deal with toxic assets is the latest in a string of initiatives the administration has put forward to deal with the financial crisis that had made it hard for consumers and businesses to get loans and has deepened the current recession, already the longest in a quarter-century.

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