DAMIAN PALETTA, JONATHAN WEISMAN and DEBORAH SOLOMON
The Wall Street Journal
January 30, 2009
The nation’s top economic officials are discussing a new way to stabilize the financial system by buying a portion of banks’ bad assets and offering guarantees against future losses on some of the remainder, in an effort to help banks while trying to mitigate the cost to taxpayers.
This approach, which merges two competing ideas, was discussed this week at a meeting that included Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairman Sheila Bair, according to people briefed on the meeting. The emerging plan comes as the administration seeks to jolt the economy with an $819 billion stimulus plan and a series of additional moves designed to stem foreclosures, overhaul financial regulation and get credit flowing again.
Amid that flurry of activity, President Barack Obama stepped up his rhetorical attacks Thursday on the same banks his officials are planning to aid. Summoning reporters after a closed meeting with Mr. Geithner, Mr. Obama blasted earlier news that Wall Street had paid out $18.4 billion in bonuses, calling it “the height of irresponsibility” and “shameful.”
“There will be time for them to make profits, and there will be time for them to get bonuses,” he said. “Now is not that time.”