The Congressional Oversight Panel is out with a very thorough report on the continuing risks of troubled assets. I’ve included the full report with some highlights below. In a nutshell, we’re a long way from being out of the woods with regards to toxic assets. This is a must read for anyone still trying to wrap their head around these issues:
If the economy worsens, especially if unemployment remains elevated or if the
commercial real estate market collapses, then defaults will rise and the troubled assets will continue to deteriorate in value. Banks will incur further losses on their troubled assets. The financial system will remain vulnerable to the crisis conditions that TARP was meant to fix.
The problem of troubled assets is especially serious for the balance sheets of small
banks. Small banks‘ troubled assets are generally whole loans, but Treasury‘s main
program for removing troubled assets from banks‘ balance sheets, the PPIP will at present address only troubled mortgage securities and not whole loans. The problem is compounded by the fact that banks smaller than those subjected to stress tests also hold
greater concentrations of commercial real estate loans, which pose a potential threat of high defaults. Moreover, small banks have more difficulty accessing the capital markets than larger banks. Despite these difficulties, the adequacy of small banks‘ capital buffers has not been evaluated under the stress tests.
This crisis was years in the making, and it won‘t be resolved overnight. But we are
now ten months into TARP, and troubled assets remain a substantial danger to the financial system. Treasury has taken aggressive action to stabilize the banks, and the steps it has taken to address the problem of troubled assets, including capital infusions, stress-testing, continued monitoring of financial institutions‘ capital, and PPIP, have provided substantial protections against a repeat of 2008. These steps have also allowed the banks to take significant losses while building reserves. Nonetheless, financial stability remains at risk if the underlying problem of troubled assets remains unresolved.
Mr. Roche is the Founder and Chief Investment Officer of Discipline Funds.Discipline Funds is a low fee financial advisory firm with a focus on helping people be more disciplined with their finances.
He is also the author of Pragmatic Capitalism: What Every Investor Needs to Understand About Money and Finance, Understanding the Modern Monetary System and Understanding Modern Portfolio Construction.