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Give Government Broad Powers: Thrift Veteran

A veteran of the successful effort to save the nation's savings-and-loan system two decades ago said Friday he's confident an agreement will be reached on legislation to relieve the spreading financial crisis.

"I'm a big believer in giving the government flexibility, because quite frankly, having been there, right now, it's quite difficult to figure out what are the details," said Tim Ryan, president of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, in an interview on CNBC.

Ryan, a former director of the Office of Thrift Supervision, cited the successful handling the collapse of Washington Mutual by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

Washington Mutual was sold late Thursday to JPMorgan Chase for $1.9 billion.

"They did a great job," he said. "Everyone's protected. There are no losses. We should have a lot of confidence that the government. They know how to do these things, and I have a lot of confidence in [Treasury Secretary Henry] Paulson and [Federal Reserve Chairman Ben] Bernanke."

That said, Ryan admitted there are a lot of questions still to be answered, particularly about how troubled assets will be acquired.

"Are we going to run a reverse-auction process or some type of model-based purchase process?" he asked. "Are we going to try to buy at fire-sale levels, which really could hurt the financial system? Or are we going to try to buy at something which is more cash-flow developed, held-to-maturity pricing?"

He said the details should be left to the experts.

"We did a good job at the [Resolution Trust Corporation] because we were smart enough to outsource most of our work," he said.