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Two trillion reasons to be optimistic

A new chapter in American history clocks in at noon on the steps of the nation’s capitol. Barack Obama is our 44th President amid enormous fanfare, eagerness and optimism.

Whether you voted for this President or not, we should all be hoping today marks a solid move away from current circumstances. Indeed, I see there’s already an increase in enthusiasm – a perception that this New Year will be better. And, perception is people’s reality. 

We should all want this President to realize unprecedented success. The alternative stinks. And, using the bully pulpit to push the positive economic commitments he promised in his campaign would be a good start -- demanding actions from Congress that can bolster consumer confidence and stimulate credit markets now.

To that end, kudos to NMMA for ramping up its push for economic support for the boating industry. Painfully, we know too well that consumer credit and dealer floorplan financing are two critical areas for us. NMMA asked Congress for help in both areas. First, by providing that TARP (or TALF) funds be used for a safety net for lenders who do floorplan financing.

Second, that specific requirements be included that banks and non-bank financial institutions, as a condition for receiving any more funds, must provide consumer loans available for all traditional uses on an equitable basis. In other words, for boat loans in addition to auto, education and credit card loans already contemplated.

NMMA is also pushing for the designation of up to $30 billion of TARP funds for a dedicated floorplan lending facility within the SBA. Moreover, you’ll recall President Obama called for a “Nationwide Emergency Lending Facility for Small Businesses” through which SBA could directly lend to small businesses that cannot access other sources of capital. The program, run through the SBA’s Disaster Loan Program, would be available on an expedited basis so firms could meet their operating expenses.

Recently, the Federal Reserve Board announced the creation of the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility (TALF), a facility that will help market participants meet the credit needs of households and small businesses by supporting the issuance of asset-backed securities (ABS) collateralized by student loans, auto loans, credit card loans, and loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA). The TALF facility could lend up to $200 billion it was announced last week.

Now, let’s add some things up: $700 billion in TARP funds; $200 billion in TALF; $825 billion in an economic stimulus plan; plus, an estimated $300 billion in available cash consumers don’t have to drop at the gas pump these days.

The way I see it -- that’s two-plus trillion reasons to be more optimistic today.



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