A Year Later, the Cost of Mortgage Borrowing is Down: Geithner
A year ago this week, the Obama Administration outlined a Financial Stability Plan to address frozen credit markets, weakened bank capital, a backlog of troubled mortgage assets on bank balance sheets and falling home prices, according to Treasury Department secretary Tim Geithner. "At the time, with America in a deep recession, it did not matter if you were a company large or small, a family trying to buy a house, a car or even to put your kids in college; loans were not available," Geithner said in a statement issued Wednesday. He added: "A year later...[a]ccess to credit is improving and the cost of borrowing for businesses, consumers, homeowners, and state and local governments have fallen sharply." He said the administration has trimmed the expected cost of the bailout by $400bn, through encouraging private capital solutions rather than relying on public funds. He urged Congress to adopt Obama's proposed Financial Crisis Responsibility Fee, which will tax the largest banks until all bailout funds are returned. In a report (download here) on a year of the Financial Stability Plan, the Treasury said the expected impact of stabilization efforts on the federal deficit was reduced from more than $550bn, likely down to below $120bn. "Income generated by the Federal Reserve's portfolio and other government programs should offset much of the potential losses from GSEs," the report reads, in part. The report states securitization markets have reopened, partly due to the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility (TALF) - which has helped lower spreads and improve asset-backed securities (ABS) issuance (illustrated below): "Announcements for the Public-Private Investment Program (PPIP) last year had a notable impact on prices, which have continued to improve since the Public-Private Investment Funds started to purchase legacy securities from banks last fall," Treasury said in the report. The Treasury is not the only regulator taking stock of its stabilization efforts a year later. Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke said this week a series of Fed policy wind-down methods are being tested. The Fed may first drain excess reserves built up over many months through extraordinary asset-purchase programs, and then begin to raise interest rates. Or the Fed could pursue both options simultaneous to facilitate a quicker exit. Ultimately, economic developments will determine the exit process. Write to Diana Golobay.