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Scanned from John Maynard Keynes, Essays in Persuasion, long island: W. W. Norton & Co. , 1963, pp. 358-373.
Additional resources for Brookings Papers on Economic Activity: Spring 2009
This was based on the FDIC’s experience with IndyMac, the Los Angeles-area savings and loan that the agency had taken over on July 11. The IndyMac protocol involved steps to bring a borrower’s monthly payment on his or her first mortgage down to 38 percent of pre-tax income (a figure that the FDIC changed to 31 percent when it found that many borrowers could not stay current at the 38 percent level). The steps were familiar from the bond math above: there was no principal writedown but instead a term extension, interest rate cuts, and principal forbearance, all aimed at lowering monthly payments.
These options would move the focus of financial markets policy back from the Fed to the Treasury, which would be appropriate in that the problem reflected inadequate capital rather than insufficient liquidity. But these actions all required congressional action, and there was no prospect of getting approval for any of this. With economic growth positive and the stimulus rebates only just beginning to go out in late April, it was unimaginable that Congress would give the Treasury secretary such a fund.
VI. Bear Stearns and Plans to Break the Glass The collapse of Bear Stearns over the weekend of March 14, 2008, was a watershed event for the Treasury. Until that point the Treasury had urged 32 Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Spring 2009 financial institutions to raise capital to provide a buffer against possible losses but had not contemplated fiscal actions aimed directly at the financial sector. Instead, the main policy levers were seen as being the purview of the Fed, which had cut interest rates and developed new lending facilities in the face of events.