U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson says the government must take
further "bold" actions to resolve the current financial crisis.
In a televised speech on Friday, Paulson said the
problem grows out of the millions of U.S. mortgage loans that are in
default or foreclosure.
When homeowners can not repay their loans, it
damages lenders and investments based on mortgages.
The uncertain value of those investments makes banks reluctant to lend
money, and the lack of loans threatens to stall the economic system.
Paulson outlined a larger program to buy up bad "mortgage backed securities" that will cost "hundreds of billions" of dollars.
He called the cost "significant" but said it is cheaper than allowing the financial system to stall.
He pledged to work with key members of Congress to fashion a "comprehensive" plan to resolve the crisis.
President George Bush said this is a "pivotal moment" and time for
leaders to come together across party lines to deal with these issues.
He said the U.S. economy faces "unprecedented" problems and the
government is taking unprecedented actions to solve them.
Even before Paulson and Mr. Bush spoke, world stock markets were soaring today on
news the U.S. government is formulating a plan to rescue banks from the
bad debts at the center of the U.S. financial crisis.
Investors also were encouraged when U.S. regulators temporarily
protected the stocks of financial companies from a trading practice
called "short selling" that rewards investors when the stock falls. And
the government extended insurance protection to widely-held investments
called "money market mutual funds."
Fears of a global financial meltdown forced the U.S. Federal Reserve
and other major central banks early Thursday to pump hundreds of
billions of dollars into the world's financial markets.
Earlier this week, the Federal Reserve gave an 85-billion-dollar
emergency loan to bail out the world's biggest insurance company,
American International Group (AIG). AIG nearly collapsed after major losses in the housing crisis.