Although President Obama and millions of his fellow citizens are pinning their hopes for economic recovery on his $819 billion stimulus package, the impact of this plan may turn out to be severely limited unless the president quickly resolves another daunting problem bequeathed to him by his predecessor: the $1.3 trillion of illiquid subprime mortgage-related securities lingering on the books of the nation's financial institutions because market values have not yet been established for them.

More than three months after the so-called Troubled Asset Relief Program was authorized by Congress, these securities, which include collateralized debt obligations, still represent an albatross over the financial system that impedes the restoration of trust and confidence and thereby the flow of money and credit.

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