Timothy Geithner Announces New Financial Stability Plan

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Timothy Geithner today explained the government’s new financial stability plan (also found here: http://financialstability.gov/). From the NYT:

Mr. Geithner laid out a multi-pronged program that will include several major components:

— A new program, jointly run by the Treasury and the Federal Reserve, with financing from private investors, to buy up hard-to-sell assets that have bogged down banks and financial institutions for the past year. The program, often described as a “bad bank,” is expected to spend $250 billion to $500 billion.

— Direct capital injections into banks, which would come out of the remaining $350 billion in the Treasury’s rescue program.

— A vast expansion of lending program that the Treasury and Federal Reserve had already announced, which is aimed at financing consumer loans. The two agencies had originally announced their intention to finance as much as $200 billion in loans for student loans, car loans and credit card debt. Instead the program will be expanded to as much as $1 trillion.

A separate $50 billion initiative to enable millions of homeowners facing imminent foreclosure to renegotiate the terms of their mortgages is to be announced next week.

The plan is calibrated to work on multiple fronts, with promises to invest billions of dollars in scores of ailing banks and creation of a new institution to relieve bank balance sheets of their most troubled assets. It will also renew a legislative proposal giving bankruptcy judges greater authority to modify mortgages on more favorable terms to borrowers and over the objections of banks.

The plan stops short of strict executive compensation limits or replacing company management. Why is the government creating a bad bank–but keeping bad bankers? Who are the “private investors” that are going to buy up the assets that bog others down?

He also failed to address the credit default swap system, which makes me wonder about whether the government will address the shadow banking system at all. Why aren’t they bringing back Glass-Steagall? It’s a plan, but it doesn’t purport to do anyone justice.

I hope the government’s new website (http://financialstability.gov/) allows for comments.

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