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February 11, 2009

Treasury Plan Comes Under Scrutiny

Catherine New
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Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner unveiled the government’s revised economic plan yesterday. From pundits to economists, response to the plan was lukewarm at best. Professor Charles Calomiris reacted to the Treasury’s announcement by saying:

I have serious problems with the plan. It will move much too slowly and not have a dramatic enough effect. The architects of the plan have added some good ideas, but their concerns to make sure that the taxpayers get a good deal have gone too far, to the point where the package may do little for the banks or the economy, which makes the bill penny wise and pound foolish.

In an interview with BusinessWeek, Calomiris said the plan emphasizes “very careful investments over a period of time with a lot of upside potential for taxpayers, and with all sorts of limits on what bankers can do.” One way he suggested that the plan could be improved was to guarantee banks a floor prices on their real estate assets.

Professor Chris Mayer offered his thoughts on CNBC’s The Kudlow Report (watch video):

“This is perpetuating a broken system… It’s not a good model and we shouldn’t be trying to fund a trillion dollars of it.”

Professor David Beim also commented on aspects of the plan on Forbes.com:

[Beim] estimates the potential losses to banks from the credit crisis at between $1 trillion and $2 trillion, an enormous capital hole that the government needs to find a way to fill, since private investors don’t appear willing to do so anymore.

“They're going to have to find a way to do that. Banks themselves don’t know if they are insolvent because they don’t know the value of their assets. It's a very odd situation,” Beim said.

Photo credit: Treasury Department