A Paulson-Cantor Plan Is a Win-Win
By Lawrence Kudlow
September 27, 2008 | National Review
The single-biggest mistake in the Paulson bank-rescue-plan marketing effort has been the failure to explain clearly how taxpayers are going to recoup $700 billion used to buy toxic assets at auction in order to unfreeze the banking system. In other words, folks don't understand how taxpayers will be paid back, and may actually make profits, which will enable the new government debt to be erased after the Treasury bank-rescue is completed.
Here's the key point: Any loan package bought by the Treasury will be 100 percent taxpayer owned. Period.
[Yeah, and any losses on that bad paper will be 100% taxpayer-owned! We don't know how much those bad loans are worth, Kudlow! You can't say how much the market is willing to pay for that bad debt when the investment banks haven't been willing to sell it on the free market. Be honest, for crapsakes! -- J]
Let's walk through this hypothetical for a moment. Through a market-driven auction, the Treasury will purchase some dollar amount — say $100 billion — of loans that banks will sell. The Treasury will then buy those loans at the prices that fill the auction, starting with the lowest prices and working up. Now, the Treasury will hold those bonds either to maturity or for a sale in the open market if rising prices in the market make that sale attractive. In other words, suppose the Treasury buys a bond package at 20 cents on the dollar. They hold it for a while, and if market conditions improve, they sell it for 50 cents on the dollar to some buyer (e.g., an investment fund, a private-equity fund, a hedgie). The Treasury will make the sale at the higher price in order to gain a profit for taxpayers.