Paulson Changes Tack Yet Again on TARP
It’s a good thing (for him) this guy doesn’t have to face elections.
Treasury backs away from plan to buy bad assets
Wed Nov 12, 2008 11:51am EST
WASHINGTON (Reuters) Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson on Wednesday said he was backing away from buying troubled mortgage assets using a $700 billion bailout fund, instead favoring a second round of capital injections into financial institutions that would match private funds.
Paulson, in an update on the Treasury’s financial rescue efforts, said his staff has continued to examine the benefits of purchasing illiquid mortgage assets under the so-called Troubled Asset Relief Program.
“Our assessment at this time is that this is not the most effective way to use TARP funds, but we will continue to examine whether targeted forms of asset purchase can play a useful role, relative to other potential uses of TARP resources,” Paulson told a news conference.
When Treasury was selling the $700 billion bailout plan to Congress, it initially promoted it as a vehicle that would purchase illiquid mortgage assets from banks and other institutions to cushion potential losses.
But it became quickly apparent that setting up such purchases would take time, and Treasury opted for the faster method of injecting capital directly into banks by buying preferred stock. The Treasury has allocated $250 billion of the fund to such purchases so far.
Paulson said the Treasury is evaluating a second program that would provide government investments that would match private investments in capital raisings.
“In developing a potential matching program, we will also consider capital needs of non-bank financial institutions not eligible for the current capital program,” Paulson said.
He also said support was needed for the markets that securitize credit outside the banking system for products such as car loans, credit cards and student loans. The Treasury and Federal Reserve are exploring the development of a potential liquidity facility for highly rated AAA asset-backed securities.
“We are looking at ways to possibly use the TARP to encourage private investors to come back to this troubled market, by providing them access to federal financing while protecting the taxpayers’ investment,” Paulson said.
(Reporting by David Lawder, Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)