Paraphrasing Barney Frank: "You can't handle the truth"Submitted by Jim Brown on Wed, 02/11/2009 - 10:42
Frank Backs Fed
``You have to balance the need for transparency with protecting the public interest,'' Talbott said. ``Taxpayers have a right to know where their tax dollars are going, but one piece of information standing alone could undermine public confidence in the system.''
The nation's biggest banks, Citigroup, Bank of America Corp., JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo & Co., Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley, declined to comment on whether they have borrowed money from the Fed. They received $120 billion in capital from the TARP, which was signed into law Oct. 3.
In an interview Nov. 6, House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank said the Fed's disclosure is sufficient and that the risk the central bank is taking on is appropriate in the current economic climate. Frank said he has discussed the program with Timothy F. Geithner, president and chief executive officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and a possible candidate to succeed Paulson as Treasury secretary.
``I talk to Geithner and he was pretty sure that they're OK,'' said Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat. ``If the risk is that the Fed takes a little bit of a haircut, well that's regrettable.'' Such losses would be acceptable, he said, if the program helps revive the economy.
`Unclog the Market'
Frank said the Fed shouldn't reveal the assets it holds or how it values them because of ``delicacy with respect to pricing.'' He said such disclosure would ``give people clues to what your pricing is and what they might be able to sell us and what your estimates are.'' He wouldn't say why he thought that information would be problematic.
Revealing how the Fed values collateral could help thaw frozen credit markets, said Ron D'Vari, chief executive officer of NewOak Capital LLC in New York and the former head of structured finance at BlackRock Inc.
``I'd love to hear the methodology, how the Fed priced the assets,'' D'Vari said. ``That would unclog the market very quickly.''
TARP's $700 billion so far is being used to buy preferred shares in banks to shore up their capital. The program was originally intended to hold banks' troubled assets while markets were frozen.