Monday, March 24, 2008

Fed May Buy Mortgages Next, Treasury Investors Bet

"I don't want it, why do you think I sold it to you"
-overheard when one trader tried to D.K. (don't know) a trade with another.
From Bloomberg:

Forget lower interest rates. For the Federal Reserve to keep the financial markets from imploding it needs to buy troubled mortgage bonds from banks and securities firms, say the world's biggest Treasury investors.

Even after cutting rates by 3 percentage points since September, expanding the range of securities it accepts as collateral for loans and giving dealers access to its discount window, the Fed has been unable to promote confidence. The difference between what the government and banks pay for three- month loans almost doubled in the past month to 1.69 percentage points.

The only tool left may be for the Fed to help facilitate a Resolution Trust Corp.-type agency that would buy bonds backed by home loans, said Bill Gross, manager of the world's biggest bond fund at Pacific Investment Management Co. While purchasing some of the $6 trillion mortgage securities outstanding would take problem debt off the balance sheets of banks and alleviate the cause of the credit crunch, it would put taxpayers at risk.

``An RTC-type structure is interesting, and it may not be that much of a burden on taxpayers in the long run,'' said Barr Segal, a managing director at Los Angeles-based TCW Group Inc. who helps oversee $80 billion in fixed-income assets. The government should purchase the mortgages and reissue ``debt that's backed by the U.S. government and there you go, you've unclogged the drain,'' he said....MORE

I don't know whether to say "What could possibly go wrong?" or "Told ya so*" Hey! I just said both!

*Feb. 8 Doom and Gloom: What Can the Federal Reserve Do?
Feb. 8 Doom and Gloom: What Can the Federal Reserve Do? Part II
Feb. 14 Depression risk might force U.S. to buy assets