Treasury Plan Rebrands “Toxic Assets” in Hopes of Selling Them to Private Investors

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Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner released long-awaited details of the administration's $1 trillion Public-Private Investment Program, which will encourage private investors to purchase the assets dragging on banks' balance sheets, today. There was one thing — other than the terribly awkward fact of the administration asking Wall Street titans for help straight on the heels of Populist Rage Week— that stuck out to us right off the bat. Said "assets" — which have previously been called "troubled" or even more damningly "toxic," giving lie to the idea that they are indeed assets at all — are now being called legacy assets. This is an extremely clever bit of marketing we think. Not only because it handily reminds us that these problem children were not born under this administration, but because it makes them sound kind of stately and old world and worth something, like a silver pattern a new-moneyed hedge-fund guy with a class chip on his shoulder might buy. We would have gone with Classic Debt, personally, but still, kudos.

Fact Sheet: Public-Private Investment Program [Treasury.gov]
Geithner Relies on Investors for $1 Trillion Plan [Bloomberg]