March 21, 2009 / 2:19 AM / 11 years ago

U.S. bank rescue plan could come on Monday: report

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. government will announce as soon as Monday a long-awaited plan to try to get bad assets off the books of banks, a cornerstone of its efforts to tackle the credit crisis, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner speaks during a news conference at the G20 Finance Ministers meeting at a hotel, near Horsham, in southern England March 14, 2009. REUTERS/Andrew Winning

The Obama administration, battling a deepening recession, is set to adopt a three-pronged approach to ridding the financial system of so-called toxic assets, the newspaper and the New York Times said on their websites on Friday.

The plan would create an entity, backed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp, a U.S. banking regulator, to buy and hold loans, the reports said.

It would expand a newly launched Federal Reserve facility — that lends money to investors to buy securities backed by consumer loans — to include toxic assets. And it would create new public and privately financed funds to buy such securities under the management of private investment experts.

The Obama administration plans to contribute between $75 billion and $100 billion in new capital to the effort although that amount could be expanded, the Wall Street Journal said.

The Treasury Department and Federal Reserve declined to comment. Sources familiar with the government’s thinking have told Reuters details of a plan could be announced next week.

The Bush administration tried without success late last year to set up a mechanism to get bad assets off the balance sheets of commercial banks.

The banks have been hammered by losses incurred by mortgage-related debt that has turned sour amid a fall in house prices and a pickup in defaults, sparking a credit crisis that has strangled the U.S. and global economies.

Obama’s Treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner, has outlined a new proposal to soak up as much as $1 trillion in assets through a public-private program.

But investors have grown increasingly concerned that his efforts are running into problems more than a month after he outlined the plan.

The slow start of the new Federal Reserve consumer lending program this week has been seen as a sign that private capital may shun the toxic-asset plan because of public outrage over large executive bonuses.

Many big private investors are worried they could face tough new rules in U.S. financial rescue programs after Congress pressed ahead with efforts to claw back bonuses paid to executives at failed insurer American International Group.

The Wall Street Journal said the Treasury would match private sector finance for the public-private toxic asset funds on a one-for-one basis in most cases.

Washington would be a co-investor also in the new FDIC troubled loans program but could contribute 80 percent in some cases, and would guarantee as much as $500 billion in loans investments, the newspaper said in its report.

The New York Times said the FDIC program could involve government funding for up to 97 percent of the equity.

It also said the plan is likely to offer generous taxpayer subsidies, in the form of low-interest loans, to coax investors to form partnerships with the government.

Editing by Peter Cooney & Jan Dahinten

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