Bailout Bill: The Only Question Is, What Will Be In It

The latest round of hearings have ended. The next hearing, in front of the House Financial Services Committee, will take place at 2:30 pm EST.

It's not a question of whether a bill will pass. Rep. Frank has said that efforts are already underway to come up with a joint Senate-House bill to give the Treasury Department authority to buy mortgage assets.

The question is what will be in it; the outlines of a deal are already pretty clear. Frank said that they are close to an agreement that would allow the government to take an equity stake in companies in exchange for selling assets.

There will also likely be some kind of limits on executive compensation, and some type of help for homeowners in the form of foreclosure forbearance, or something of that type.

The question now is, to what extent will these additions hinder participation in the program? Remember, we want OPT IN, not OPT OUT.

Pricing is the last issue, and while the Congress seems befuddled about how that would work, the key is not to give out money piece-meal for purchases. Senator Schumer's suggestion of just $150 billion, then letting the next administration deal with the rest of the $700 billion request, is a serious confidence-killer.

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