What’s next for the bailout plan?
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Kai Ryssdal: Believe it or not, and the Speaker might not agree with this, but the vote today was the easy part. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson’s gonna have to set up an operation to manage this thing. Thousands of accountants and asset managers are gonna have the job of identifying, then pricing, then buying and then, eventually, selling hundreds of billions of dollars worth of bad bank loans. The sooner the better, too, if you want to shoot some confidence back into the markets. Our Washington bureau chief John Dimsdale reports.
John Dimsdale: President Bush warns the government rescue will take a while.
Tape of President Bush: We’ll take the time necessary to design an affective program that achieves its objects and does not waste taxpayers’ dollars.
The new government accountants will have to figure out the worth of hundreds of thousands of sour mortgages and then manage them to maintain their value. Are the tenants paying their rent? Are local property taxes being paid? Lynn Turner did some of that in the old Resolution Trust Corporation’s cleanup of failed S&L’s.
Lynn Turner You’re in essence talking about setting up a project that is bigger than a Fortune 100-size company, which usually employs tens of thousands of people. You’re talking about doing this not in years, but in months. So, it is a daunting, if not overwhelming task.
And where will the government find expert asset managers and accountants? In many cases, from the lenders who made the bad loans to begin with.
Turner:, Since they’re the people that may have originated these loans, or maybe auditing the numbers that are going into the very banks that are trying sell them to you for as high a price as possible, it does without a doubt create some serious conflicts.
Yes, Congress has imposed three layers of oversight on Treasury’s rescue operation. But Turner says in most cases, the regulators won’t discover any over-valuations or other waste until the money’s been spent.
In Washington, I’m John Dimsdale for Marketplace.
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