March 24, 2009

Treasury Finally Fleshes Out Its Financial Stability Plan

To the roaring approval of the stock market (even though details are fairly scarce and it’s been known for a week that this was coming), the Treasury Department provided more details about it’s plans to bailout banks and handle their toxic assets by providing a fact sheet and white paper about its new “Public-Private Partnership Investment Program.”

Boiling down the PPIP, it will use a combination of public and private capital, managed by private sector managers to purchase toxic (now known as “legacy”) assets from banks and investors. The PPIP proposes to use $75-100 billion of TARP funding along with with private investor capital and FDIC-guaranteed debt to generate an initial $500 billion in purchasing power, which could grow to $1 trillion over time.

The PPIP has multiple components, including a Legacy Loans Program and a Legacy Securities Program. Since more details are needed, the government will need to create regulations to get these programs off the ground. We are posting memos in our “Credit Crunch” Practice Area.

SEC Commissioners Speak Out on Enforcement Policy

Last week, in this speech, Commissioner Luis Aguilar predicted the SEC will impose more fines on companies going forward – and expressed a desire to rescind the SEC’s policy statement that guides the Enforcement Division on how to determine financial penalties because he believes it doesn’t deter misconduct. As you may recall, the SEC issued the policy statement back in early 2006 amid a fight among the five Commissioners that existed at the time over the level of fines levied against public companies.

Commissioner Troy Paredes also got into the act, delivering this speech regarding the Enforcement Division, its jurisdiction and available resources – and the methods used to select cases for investigation, among other topics.

Finally, Commissioner Elise Walter gave this testimony to Congress about the SEC’s enforcement efforts in response to the financial crisis. She noted that possible areas of investigations include possible insider trading at subprime lenders; misleading, inadequate or non-existent disclosures regarding subprime exposure by investment banks; abusive short selling; and improper valuations of illiquid assets.

How Boards Should Manage Risk

We have posted the transcript from our recent webcast: “How Boards Should Manage Risk.”

– Broc Romanek