Ross: Obama's Team Doing Better Than Bush
The Obama administration is doing a much better job with regards to the dealing with the economic crisis than its predecessor says Wilbur Ross, chairman and CEO of WL Ross & Co.
"The prior administration seemed to have as its objective, putting out the least amount of money at the least risk. I think this administration recognizes that the problems are very big and it's ok for the government to take some degree of risk," Ross told CNBC Wednesday.
The administration was better at recognizing that residential real estate was at the heart of the problem and they were dealing with it decisively.
"You can't have American families losing $5.5 trillion in their homes. You can't have 12 million families who owe more on their house than it's worth and think that you'll have a vibrant consumer. And the consumer is about 70 percent of the American economy," Ross added.
Ross said that he was very keen to participate in the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility, or TALF, which is aimed at boosting the availability of credit to consumers and small businesses.
The Federal Reserve will lend up to $200 billion to spur consumer lending -- for autos, education, credit cards and other financing. The money will be used to provide financing to investors to buy up the debt.
"In effect, the government is becoming the securitization mechanism for consumer lending. And I think that's a very very constructive thing for our economy because part of the problem that consumers are having, is getting financing, particularly for automobiles and houses, Ross said.
Participants -- companies and investors that pledge eligible collateral to back the loan -- must request the new government loans by March 17. The Fed will provide the three-year loans on March 25.
Asked whether it was a good time to invest in large commercial banks such as Citigroup , Ross had this to say, "I think the big question with the larger banks is whether the Treasury will continue to provide them capital on a cheaper basis than private equity would. You saw the most recent transaction with Citibank ... certainly no one in private equity would come into a company at twice what the stock was selling. One of the difficulties we've been having is the TARP money has been cheaper for institutions than anything we could provide. It also brings with it no change in governance, no change in control. So it's fundamentally more attractive to the banks than we would be."