Next Round of TALF Investments Focused on Consumer Debt

It appears the Federal Reserve will announce this week a substantial round of investments through the Term Asset Backed Securities Loan Facility (TALF) program in securitized credit card, auto loan, student loan, and other consumer debt. These investments will be from the initial TALF program allocation of $200 billion. The Fed is now turning its attention to the commercial real estate sector and they appear to recognize this is the next "shoe about to drop" as mortgage holders are unable to refinance in today's marketplace. We anticipate the next round of TALF investments—made available by increasing the facility up to $1 trillion—will include a focus on the commercial sector.

In addition to its efforts on asset-backed loans, the Fed is also working, in concert with Treasury, to reassure dubious investors and potential investors in the banking sector that no institutions are going to fail and that nationalization of banks is not on the agenda. Reports in today's media that the government is contemplating taking up to a 40 percent stake in Citicorp may not allay these concerns however.

Another development of interest over the weekend was the assessment of the economy that emerged from the nation's governors after they met separately in Washington on Saturday with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and with Mark Zandi of Moody' In the hallways of the National Governors Association conference and in pages of newspapers like the New York Times, one could see that the combined effect of the two briefings to the Governors was to intensify their sense that recovery will be a very slow process. The Times article appearing in the paper on Sunday, cited pessimistic assessments from Democratic and Republican governors alike. Public pronouncements by both the Fed and Zandi have been diverging in recent weeks, with the Fed indicating the economy will begin to turn around in the second half of 2009 and with Zandi saying that is not likely until late in 2010. One can infer from the articles that followed the meetings that the Governors gave somewhat more weight to the Zandi assessment.

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