Fed could cash in on commercial paper

Money

TEXT OF STORY

Stacey Vanek-Smith: In just a handful of weeks, the federal government has spent more than a trillion dollars trying to contain the financial crisis. But so far, investors don't seem to be buying it. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped below 10,000 yesterday for the first time in four years.

But Uncle Sam looks poised to try, try again. The Fed is reportedly considering pumping money into the commercial paper market. In our continuing special coverage of the financial crisis, Jeremy Hobson has more.


Jeremy Hobson: The commercial paper market is the engine of American business. It's the money that corporations rely on for day to day operations.
Everything from paying employees to buying inventory. They usually borrow it from banks -- or even other companies.

But right now, no one wants to lend money -- for fear it won't be paid back. To make matters worse, money market investors are pulling their cash out of funds that buy commercial paper. As a result, the rates companies pay to borrow money have skyrocketed.

So the Fed is considering stepping -- and becoming the lender of last resort to American companies. It would create a special vehicle to buy unsecured commercial paper. And do so -- most likely -- by printing more money.

Details are still sketchy about the idea. But it's clear on Wall Street and in commercial paper markets around the world that time is running out.

In New York, I'm Jeremy Hobson for Marketplace.

About the author

Jeremy Hobson is host of Marketplace Morning Report, where he looks at business news from a global perspective to prepare listeners for the day ahead.

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