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Obama Plan for Bad Bank Assets Could Come This Week

The Obama administration's plan to purchase toxic assets from the banks in a public/private partnership could be made public as soon as this week, according to senior administration officials.

Officials said President Obama has largely signed off on the plan in discussions with Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and the president's economic team. A meeting was scheduled today at the White House to discuss the plan. But some details of the so-called Public Private Investment Fund, or PPIF, had yet to be worked out and officials cautioned that could delay the announcement to the following week.

Still, officials say the broad outlines of the plan have been decided. Several competing funds will be established with capital from both public and private sources. The hope is to have these funds bid on the assets weighing down the balance sheets of the nation's banks and create a market price through the competition.

The administration plans to begin the program, to be overseen by the Treasury, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Federal Reserve, with purchases of up to $500 billion in assets. It could be expanded to $1 trillion.

The bidders will be offered low-cost government financing to buy the assets and some form of insurance to protect them against downside risk. Taxpayers, in turn, will also have a way of profiting on the upside if the assets appreciate.

Officials declined to provide details, and it was not clear if those specifics had been worked out.

The PPIF would come amid some trouble being experienced by the Term Asset Securities Loan Facility. A critical deadline for the program, intended to kickstart the consumer lending market, had to be delayed by two days to Thursday this week because of disagreements among market participants about loss protection.

But an administration official downplayed the delay and said TALF was still on track.

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