2008-10-04nytimes.com

If the government bargains to buy at the lowest possible price, it will protect taxpayers. But forcing the banks to book big losses could be self-defeating if they cannot resume lending until they raise fresh capital. If the government agrees to buy the assets at the value at which banks are keeping them on their balance sheets, taxpayers will almost certainly be overpaying.

The “right” price will depend on whether the government is favoring buyers or sellers. Many banks are hoping that the government will pay close to par — the value listed in their books.

Lots of talk about conflict of interest as well. Also this:

Democratic lawmakers insisted that the Treasury use its authority to help restructure many subprime mortgages so that at least some troubled homeowners could avoid foreclosure.

But the Treasury’s auction plan will make that difficult. More than 90 percent of all subprime mortgages are part of giant pools, or trusts, which sell mortgage-backed securities to investors around the world.

Before the government would be able to modify any mortgage that was in a trust, securities experts said, it would have to acquire agreement from 100 percent of the bondholders. But a senior Treasury official said the government would probably want to buy no more than half of the securities tied to a trust, which would hamper winning agreement from all investors.


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