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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Brady, Volcker, Ludwig: Resurrect the RTC

by Calculated Risk on 9/17/2008 11:00:00 AM

Former U.S. Treasury Secretary (from 1988-1993) Nicholas Brady, former comptroller of the currency Eugene Ludwig (1993-1998), and former Fed Chairman (1979-1987) Paul Volcker argue in the WSJ: Resurrect the Resolution Trust Corp.

The fact is that the financial system needs basic, long-term reform, but right now the system is clogged with enormous amounts of toxic real-estate paper that will not repay according to its terms. This paper, in turn, is unable to support huge quantities of structured financial instruments, levered as much as 30 times.

Until there is a new mechanism in place to remove this decaying tissue from the system, the infection will spread, confidence will deteriorate further, and we will have to live through the mother of all credit contractions.

... We should move decisively to create a new, temporary resolution mechanism. There are precedents -- such as the Resolution Trust Corporation of the late 1980s and early 1990s, as well as the Home Owners Loan Corporation of the 1930s. This new governmental body would be able to buy up the troubled paper at fair market values, where possible keeping people in their homes and businesses operating. Like the RTC, this mechanism should have a limited life and be run by nonpartisan professional management.
This proposal is picking up momentum.