Sep
25

Bailout Plan’s Mystery: What’s All This Stuff Worth?

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September 24, 2008

By Vikas Bajaj – New York Times

What would you pay, sight unseen, for a house that nobody wants, on a hard-luck street where no houses are selling?

That question is easy compared to the one confronting the Treasury Department as Washington works toward a vast bailout of financial institutions. Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. is proposing to spend up to $700 billion to buy troubled investments that even Wall Street is struggling to put a price on.

A big concern in Washington — and among many ordinary Americans — is that the difficulty in valuing these assets could result in the government’s buying them for more than they will ever be worth, a step that would benefit financial institutions at taxpayers’ expense.

Anyone who has tried to buy or sell a house when the market is falling, as it is now, knows how difficult it can be to agree on a price. But valuing the securities that the Treasury aims to buy will be far more difficult. Each one of these investments is tied to thousands of individual mortgages, and many of those loans are going bad as the housing market worsens.

“The reality is that we are not going to know what the right price is for years,” said Andrew Feltus, a bond portfolio manager at Pioneer Investments, a mutual fund firm based in Boston. “It might be 20 cents on the dollar or 60 cents on the dollar, but we won’t know for years.”

ARTICLE SHORTENED DUE TO LENGTH….

LINK TO ARTICLE HERE:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/25/business/25value.html?_r=2&ref=business&oref=slogin&oref=slogin
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