Geithner on the Record: Toxic Assets

SECRETARY TIMOTHY GEITHNER: Thanks for coming. Nice to see you. Obviously we’re announcing this morning the next stage of our broad plan to help repair the financial system. But I want to start by stepping back, putting this in broader context.

Just to state again the start proposition that to get this economy back on track we need to get this very powerful stimulus program in place as quickly as possible. It will help get millions of Americans back to work, help support and stimulate private investment. But for that to work, we need to move very aggressively to get our financial system back to the point where it’s providing the credit necessary for recovery.

That agenda, the financial agenda, which is such a critical complement of recovery, has several critical parts. And let me just walk through these first before I get to the details of today’s announcement.

First, we have put in place a series of very powerful targeted programs to help address the housing crisis, to help catalyze small business lending. We are moving to start a –- you saw last week –- a broad-based program to get the secondary markets working again, too. Those markets, as you know, are very critical to the capacity of auto financed markets to work, muni markets, student lending markets, consumer credit markets, also small business markets. And you saw last week that in the first stage of this new fed Treasury program $9 billion in issuance, four times the level of — more than the last four months alone. And that will make a material difference in bringing interest rates down.

We announced as the first step in our broad framework a plan to make sure that banks have enough capital to survive a deeper recession. We’re going through this very carefully designed capital assessment process, that’s designed to bring a more consistent, more conservative, more forward-looking view of the scale of losses banks may face in a deeper recession. But the critical part of that program is to make it clear that they will be able to raise capital from the government if they can’t raise in the markets so that they can get through a deeper recession. That will help reduce the odds of a deeper recession, help make sure, again, they can provide a level of lending that will be necessary to support recovery.

I just want to start with those three things before I go into today’s announcement again, and go through them again to make you understand how important they are.

First, targeted programs to help address the housing crisis which have already helped bring interest rates down, will help millions of Americans be able to refinance, take advantage of lower rates, reduce monthly payments, help reduce foreclosure risk. Targeted program directly at the constraints on small business lending; very strong broad-based program that will help get securitization in markets going again. You saw its first initial launch last week. And a program of insurance — you could call it capital insurance

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