For months now, Ricardo Caballero has been proposing yet another solution to the toxic-asset problem: universal, government-provided insurance for the assets. He recently let loose a double-barrelled volley in both the FT’s Economists’ Forum and the WSJ’s Real-Time Economics blogs. I believe he is correct that this would solve the problem: if the government is insuring any bank assets that the banks want them to insure, then the banks are protected from any further write-downs, and they are healthy by construction. However, there are other ways of getting to the same outcome. One would be for the government to pay face value (or current book value) for any assets that the banks would want to sell. Another would be to take over every single bank that fails Mr Geithner’s stress test, pull out all of their bad assets, and reprivatize them. All of these solutions will result in banks that are not encumbered by the fear of further writedowns on toxic assets.
Tag: credit insurance