Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Government Programs You Don't Know

We've all heard about the TARP program. It stands for "Troubled Asset Relief Program." Of course, the only problem with it, was that it didn't really provide the help it intended to. Because of the time sensitive nature of rolling out this program, there were not enough regulations put in place to dictate what banks could and could not do with these funds. As a result, the government, and unfortunately, the taxpayers, now look stupid.

Recently, the Treasury Department launched TALF, which stands for "Term Asset-backed-securities Loan Facility." Introduced by the Bush Administration last year and since refined under Secretary Geithner, TALF will immediately support purchases of consumer loan-backed asset securities and then be expanded to include commercial and residential backed mortgages. All together it has the potential to generate up to $1 trillion of lending, according to Treasury.

Will this program also become a failure? Time will tell, but in the mean time, we here at Llenrock believe in calling it like we see it, telling it like it is, and/or whatever other tired cliche you would like to use. For that reason, we have come up with some of our own "government programs" that don't just pretend to help clean up the mess we've created using clever acronyms, but rather terms things very, very plainly. We hope to show the U.S. government the inherent stupidity of just being clever on the surface. And so we bring you:

ACRONYM - A Colorful, Realistic Opinion Not Yet Meaningful

1. President Obama several weeks ago vowed to support homeowners directly with aid to help them pay their mortgages to stave off foreclosure. This was hoped to have provided a fewer number of foreclosures, making banks healthier, increasing consumer spending, and encouraging banks to lend more. But where was the fancy acronym? We dub this government initiative:

Mortgages Undertaking Substantial Help

2. There has been a lot of talk about the slide in the stock market. The Dow recently sailed below 7,000 points on news that AIG posted the biggest quarterly loss of any U.S. corporation in history. The stock market, more closely resembling a coop of chickens with no heads than a stable financial market, tanked. Many pundits have said the cause of the financial turmoil, and the lack of confidence it has inspired in the public, has been caused by the mark-to-market effect. Created as a way to ensure corporations had more financial transparency for investors, they were required to periodically reprice assets to current market values. What if this were to happen universally in the world of commercial real estate? Of course, when the current market is in total chaos, how does anyone realistically know what these assets are worth anyways? We give you a new governmental agency formed to figure it out:

Commercial Realty Asset Pricing

3. Back in the late 1980s after the savings and loan crisis, the RTC was created as an entity to hold troubled commercial assets, and efficiently sell them off. This resulted in massive discounts for liquid buyers, often able to scoop up properties for pennies on the dollar. Can we really have another RTC program? Why not, if we can create private/public partnerships to reap some of the benefits! We give you:

Federal Assets in Real Trouble

4. Surely by now, you have heard all the buzz about vulture funds. These funds have been, or are in the process of being formed to scoop up distressed assets over the next few years as owners fail to make mortgage payments due to their assets not being worth the loans currently outstanding on them. Don't know which one to invest in after the Bernie Madoff scandal? Well they all have one thing in common. They are all private equity funds. You can't trust any of them. Instead, we nominate a few brilliant minds to head up a government sponsored vulture fund to buy the real bargains from the banks they loaned billions of dollars to (seems kinda fair, right?) in an effort to actually turn the properties around and make the taxpayers some of their money back. Most citizens don't take pity on the rich guys losing their shirts in the commercial game anyways. May we suggest:

Pilfering Of Other's Property

If you are as clever as we hope you are, you might have noticed a theme with our government programs and the acronyms they might publicly go by. So why the low brow humor on a high brow site? Cause these days, between scandals, failed banks, failed insurance giants, failed automakers, and failed government programs, you just never can tell whose full of it.

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