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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

CNBC: "Bad bank" plan "gaining momentum"

by Calculated Risk on 1/27/2009 05:38:00 PM

From Steve Liesman at CNBC: Plan for Banks' Toxic Debt May Be Unveiled Next Week

The Obama administration is close to deciding on a plan to purchase bad—or non-performing and illiquid—assets from banks ... The plan could be announced early next week.

The so-called "bad bank" plan, would address the key problem of how to price the assets by using a model-pricing mechanism.

The model would take account of the government's ability to hold onto assets, even to maturity, and pay for the them with cheap funding. Result: the government might end up paying more than current market prices for the securities.

On the other hand, if the government paid less than the value at which the asset is carried on the bank's books, the bank would issue common equity to the government.
A Treasury official said nothing will be announced this week and would not comment "on specific policy decisions that have yet to be made."
I'm skeptical of a "model-pricing mechanism" that adjusts the price of non-performing assets higher because the government has a lower borrowing cost. What then happens to the government's borrowing costs in the future?