Fix the Bailout to Help Homeowners - An Open Letter from Thomas Peterffy, Chief Executive Officer, Interactive Brokers Group

The following Open Letter appeared in Friday’s editions of the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post.

Even those political leaders that support the current bailout proposal don’t like it very much. The American people like it less. It creates a complicated bureaucracy, does not directly help homeowners and does not address the foreclosure crisis.

Amend the bill to allow the Treasury to provide direct mortgage assistance to all American homeowners.

If the Treasury were to pay the first $250 of every American’s primary residential mortgage each month for five years, the value of all mortgage-backed securities would rise immediately. The housing market would stabilize and the banking system with it.

The $250 monthly payment would be made to all homeowners who pay the rest of their monthly mortgage bill. It would help families and create a strong incentive for them to pay their mortgages.

Those homeowners behind in their payments could be given a window of time to bring their payments up to date and receive the subsidy retroactively for a specific number of months.

The program could be extended to current and future buyers with a declining subsidy as we go forward and further stabilize real estate markets.

The monthly subsidy would act as an economic stimulus, helping us to avoid a protracted recession and eliminating the need for a separate stimulus package. The cost would be manageable. There are roughly 40 million mortgages, accordingly the cost of this package would be about $10 billion per month. This is a reasonable expense to bear considering that through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (and AIG and Bear Stearns) American taxpayers are already on the hook for hundreds of billions or more if mortgage defaults continue to accelerate.

The program outlined above is simple, achievable and equitable to all Americans. It puts families and homeowners first, solving the problem from the bottom up rather than the top down.

Thomas Peterffy,
Chief Executive Officer

Thomas Peterffy is the C.E.O. and Chairman of the Interactive Brokers Group, a global brokerage and market making firm headquartered in Connecticut. Interactive Brokers Group does not hold any mortgage-backed securities or credit default swaps.

For further information call:
Earl Nemser, Vice Chairman, Interactive Brokers Group, Inc., (917) 689-9994

Interactive Brokers Group, Inc.
Andrew Wilkinson, 203-913-1369

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