Sunday, September 21, 2008

Government is in a dilemman in valuing toxic assets

Valuing these assets will be one of the trickiest questions. For the plan to succeed, financial institutions must be able to get these assets off their books at a high enough price that their balance sheets aren't further pinched. The government is, in some respects, constrained in driving a hard bargain because the whole point of the program is to help banks get back on solid footing -- not to force them into deep write-downs, potentially exacerbating their pain. At the same time, the market turmoil has complicated efforts to determine the "real" value of the assets. The mechanics of any sale are expected to be worked out between the asset managers and the Treasury. One option is a reverse auction. In that case, the Treasury could determine a type of assets it wants to buy (say, all AAA-rated mortgage-backed securities) and would then buy securities from financial institutions that offer to sell at the lowest price.

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