TARP beneficiaries have been urged by White House and legislators to redirect a large portion of the federal cash into consumer loans. Lend so the economy can mend. True, the rhetoric has cooled recently. President Obama reportedly was more focused on increased lending to small businesses than consumers during his late-March meeting with the CEOs of major U.S. banks. And the president warned G-20 leaders in early April that the age of "voracious" American consumption is over.
But increased consumer lending is part of the raison d'etre of the Term Asset Backed Securities Loan Facility. A white paper supporting TALF published by the U.S. Treasury Department points out that the securitization market had been funding around 25 percent of "non-mortgage consumer credit" until it ground to a halt last year. "Ultimately, the program should bring down the cost and increase the availability of new credit to consumers and businesses," the white paper posits.