The Wall Street Journal is reporting U.S. Agrees to Citigroup Bailout.

The federal government agreed Sunday to take unprecedented steps to stabilize Citigroup Inc. by moving to guarantee close to $300 billion in troubled assets weighing on the bank’s books, according to people familiar with details of the plan.

Treasury has agreed to inject an additional $20 billion in capital into Citigroup under terms of the deal hashed out between the bank, the Treasury Department, the Federal Reserve, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Treasury officials will charge a higher interest rate for the capital injection — 8% for the first few years — than it has charged to dozens of other banks now borrowing money under the government’s the $700 billion rescue package approved by Congress last month.

In addition to the capital, Citigroup will have an extremely unusual arrangement in which the government agrees to backstop a roughly $300 billion pool of its assets, containing mortgage-backed securities among other things. Citigroup must absorb the first $37 billion to $40 billion in losses from these assets. If losses extend beyond that level, Treasury will absorb the next $5 billion in losses, followed by the FDIC taking on the next $10 billion in losses. Any losses on these assets beyond that level would be taken by the Fed.

Citigroup would also agree to work to modify — if possible — troubled mortgages held in the $300 billion pool, using standards created by the FDIC after the collapse of IndyMac Bank.

The government is not expected to require any management changes, as that was seen as potentially being too destabilizing.

Citigroup insists it is “well capitalized” but I have my doubts as noted in

Hopefully this will put to bed Bush and the Treasury requesting another $350 billion from Congress.

I am not in favor of this bailout of course, but it is a far better scheme on the surface than blowing another $350 billion. The pertinent question is just how bad those $300 billion in assets will be. I doubt the Fed will disclose the assets it is guaranteeing.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock
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