Friday, September 19, 2008
Treasury Secretary Paulson made a statement today on Comprehensive Approach to Market Developments, in which he stated:
The federal government must implement a program to remove these illiquid assets that are weighing down our financial institutions and threatening our economy. This troubled asset relief program must be properly designed and sufficiently large to have maximum impact, while including features that protect the taxpayer to the maximum extent possible. The ultimate taxpayer protection will be the stability this troubled asset relief program provides to our financial system, even as it will involve a significant investment of taxpayer dollars. I am convinced that this bold approach will cost American families far less than the alternative – a continuing series of financial institution failures and frozen credit markets unable to fund economic expansion.
I believe many Members of Congress share my conviction. I will spend the weekend working with members of Congress of both parties to examine approaches to alleviate the pressure of these bad loans on our system, so credit can flow once again to American consumers and companies. Our economic health requires that we work together for prompt, bipartisan action.
As we work with the Congress to pass this legislation over the next week, other immediate actions will provide relief.
First, to provide critical additional funding to our mortgage markets, the GSEs Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will increase their purchases of mortgage-backed securities (MBS). These two enterprises must carry out their mission to support the mortgage market.
Second, to increase the availability of capital for new home loans, Treasury will expand the MBS purchase program we announced earlier this month. This will complement the capital provided by the GSEs and will help facilitate mortgage availability and affordability.
These two steps will provide some initial support to mortgage assets, but they are not enough. Many of the illiquid assets clogging our system today do not meet the regulatory requirements to be eligible for purchase by the GSEs or by the Treasury program.
I look forward to working with Congress to pass necessary legislation to remove these troubled assets from our financial system. When we get through this difficult period, which we will, our next task must be to improve the financial regulatory structure so that these past excesses do not recur. This crisis demonstrates in vivid terms that our financial regulatory structure is sub-optimal, duplicative and outdated. I have put forward my ideas for a modernized financial oversight structure that matches our modern economy, and more closely links the regulatory structure to the reasons why we regulate. That is a critical debate for another day.