Toxic Assets And AIG

By Marc Ambinder

The major thrust of the Obama administration's toxic asset removal plan involves the creation of public-private partnerships to transfer the tricky securities from distressed banks to institutions that can safely carry them.  (That plan, incidentally, is supposed to drop very soon -- probably early next week, if not late tomorrow.) The AIG populism complicates this in two ways.

One -- private capital sources like hedge funds don't want the same scrutiny that AIG is getting. Two -- the Obama government will want to go out of its way to make sure the assets aren't overvalued.... they'll be worried that the public and Congress are going to demand even tougher scrutiny of these contracts. Politics might force the government to low-ball its part int the valuation process.   So -- the worry is that there won't be enough potential sources of capital to buy a substantial portion of the assets.  Note that that targets of the sales pitches will be community bankers before hedge funds; the Obama administration is much more keen on distributing the risk this way.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2009/03/toxic-assets-and-aig/1638/