Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Paulson: Buying Troubled Assets Not Effective Use of TARP

by Bill McBride on 11/12/2008 10:47:00 AM

How things have changed ...

Here are Paulson's prepared remarks on the progress of the TARP.

Priorities for Remaining TARP Funds

We have evaluated options for most effectively deploying the remaining TARP funds, and have identified three critical priorities. First, we must continue to reinforce the stability of the financial system, so that banks and other institutions critical to the provision of credit are able to support economic recovery and growth. Although the financial system has stabilized, both banks and non-banks may well need more capital given their troubled asset holdings, projections for continued high rates of foreclosures and stagnant U.S. and world economic conditions. Second, the important markets for securitizing credit outside of the banking system also need support. Approximately 40 percent of U.S. consumer credit is provided through securitization of credit card receivables, auto loans and student loans and similar products. This market, which is vital for lending and growth, has for all practical purposes ground to a halt. Addressing these two priorities will have powerful impacts on the overall financial system, the strength of our financial institutions and the availability of consumer credit. Third, we continue to explore ways to reduce the risk of foreclosure.

Over these past weeks we have continued to examine the relative benefits of purchasing illiquid mortgage-related assets. 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, in helping to strengthen our financial system and support lending.
emphasis added
There a couple of new wrinkles. First the Treasury is exploring ways to have private matching funds:
Any future program should maintain our principle of encouraging participation of healthy institutions while protecting taxpayers. We are carefully evaluating programs which would further leverage the impact of a TARP investment by attracting private capital, potentially through matching investments. In developing a potential matching program, we will also consider capital needs of non-bank financial institutions not eligible for the current capital program; broadening access in this way would bring both benefits and challenges.
And the Treasury is also looking at supporting some securitization:
Second, we are examining strategies to support consumer access to credit outside the banking system. ... With the Federal Reserve we 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. ... While this securitization effort is targeted at consumer financing, the program we are evaluating may also be used to support new commercial and residential mortgage-backed securities lending.