Taxpayers can more than make up for their contribution toward the billion dollar bailout of the nation's savings and loan industry by taking advantage of investment opportunities created by the thrift rescue plan, a financial trade publication says.
"Taxpayers who double as investors have much to gain if Congress adopts the new administration's proposal," an article in Financial Planning's April issue says."Analysts say a sizable number of sound thrifts are ripe for takeover now that the government is on its way to solving the crisis."
The stock of many healthy thrifts is undervalued because of widespread publicity about the industry's woes, the magazine says. News reports have focused on failed institutions, fraud among S&L managers and the negative impact President Bush's bailout plan will have on the survivors.
Bush's plan calls for a combination of bonding, retired through tax revenues, and higher deposit insurance premiums, paid by banks and thrifts, to finance the projected $90 billion cost of the rescue plan. Other aspects include increasing the capital requirement for thrifts from 3 percent to 6 percent and revamping the industry's regulatory system.
Some savings and loans have complained about the increase in insurance premiums, saying it could further squeeze profits and possibly drive them into insolvency. But, Financial Planning says many institutions can absorb the proposed costs and pass them on to customers.
The article quotes analysts predicting that S&L profits will improve as regulators continue to clear away failed institutions and as consumers regain confidence in the system, once Bush's plan is implemented. Lack of consumer confidence has hurt profitability by forcing thrifts to pay higher interest rates to stem the drain on deposits. But as depositors return their money to the thrifts, interest rates will go down and S&L profits will improve.
Financial Planning quotes an industry analyst advising investors to indentify thrifts that can and can't afford the proposed tougher capital requirements. "Thrifts that can't comply with the new standards in the next two years will have to sell out, he says, creating the potential for a buyer's market."
Investment opportunities will also exist in the bonds issued to finance about $50 billion of the bailout.
"Bond analysts and traders say the new securities could be good investments for individuals because they should trade at a slight premium to U.S. Treasury securities," Financial Planning said.
The bonds will be issued by the Resolution Funding Corp., and like most government agencies it pays a higher yield because the securities are not backed directly by the federal government, the article says. But agency offerings, including those by the bankrupt Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corp., have never defaulted and are considered safe, the magazine notes.
Despite the apparent investment opportunities, the Bush plan has its critics and no one knows exactly when or with what changes the final bailout proposal will emerge from Congress.
Financial Planning quotes House and Senate leaders as saying final action on the Bush plan should take place sometime this spring and include few changes.