WASHINGTON B — WASHINGTON -- Hoping to save billions of dollars in bailout costs, federal savings and loan regulators planned to announce today a major expansion of their efforts to find buyers or viable partners for troubled S&Ls before the institutions become insolvent and are seized by the government.
The program, called accelerated resolution, already has been used on a limited scale, in just 27 of nearly 600 failed S&Ls. But it will now be tried more extensively as federal regulators handle the disposition of about 100 weak S&Ls expected to become insolvent, according to officials.
"This is viewed as an important means of saving the taxpayer money," Bill Fulwider, a spokesman for the Office of Thrift Supervision, said yesterday.
A federal seizure of an S&L means that all its assets become the property of the Resolution Trust Corp., the agency that already has an inventory of $160 billion worth of mortgages, loans and securities, as well as shopping centers, office buildings, single-family homes and thousands of acres of empty land.
The RTC must spend money immediately to pay off depositors -- whose accounts are insured up to $100,000 -- hoping it can recoup some of the expenses later from the eventual sale of the assets in a real estate market already significantly depressed.
The RTC already has spent $80 billion on such costs. The Bush administration asked for another $80 billion, but a reluctant Congress approved expenditures of $25 billion until next April.
Regulators want to avoid additions to the already swollen inventory of S&L assets.