The Feds Double Down on Citigroup

Mon, 24 Nov 2008 15:04:38 +0000

From the joint statement by Treasury, the Fed, and the FDIC:

As part of the agreement, Treasury and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation will provide protection against the possibility of unusually large losses on an asset pool of approximately $306 billion of loans and securities backed by residential and commercial real estate and other such assets, which will remain on Citigroup's balance sheet. As a fee for this arrangement, Citigroup will issue preferred shares to the Treasury and FDIC. In addition and if necessary, the Federal Reserve stands ready to backstop residual risk in the asset pool through a non-recourse loan.

In addition, Treasury will invest $20 billion in Citigroup from the Troubled Asset Relief Program in exchange for preferred stock with an 8% dividend to the Treasury. Citigroup will comply with enhanced executive compensation restrictions and implement the FDIC's mortgage modification program.

The technical term for this is a joke.

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Citigroup has plenty of assets. It has just written too many claims on those assets. Those holding those claims need to face the reality that their claims are worth less than they were promised and adjust to that reality. That means either liquidating the firm, selling off the assets to the highest bidders, or becoming the new equity holders of the firm. The FDIC can get involved as needed to manage its contingent liabilities to insured depositors.

If the government is to get involved beyond that, it should be senior debt to the restructured entity, not preferred equity (i.e. junior to the most junior debt) to the existing entity.