The U.S. government is hiring asset managers to purchase up to $700 billion of toxic real estate securities that are the center of the current credit crisis. Buying up assets, if done properly, might address the collective under-capitalization that is the fundamental problem plaguing the financial system. But, experience with financial crises in other countries suggests that success is by no means guaranteed. Japan was the largest other country where the banks were seriously undercapitalized and where asset purchases were a critical part of the government's response to the problem. The U.S. bailout plan is similar to the Japanese approach in that it does not clearly identify the capital problem as critical and instead proposes using AMCs to remove distressed assets from bank balance sheets. When Japan used AMCs, their effectiveness was limited in part because they did not purchase enough assets. AMCs did not help recapitalization, either, and Japan had to come up with different mechanisms to use public funds for recapitalization. Both these risks are also present for the U.S. plan.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
What Can Japan Teach Us About Our Bailout?
New NBER working paper by Hoshi and Kashyap: