UPDATE - 5:06 p.m. - White House press secretary Robert Gibbs used the term “toxic asset” today during the regular daily brieifing.
When someone asked him about Treasury’s term of “legacy loans” Gibbs said he had used the word toxic earlier in the briefing.
“If there’s a marketing czar, I’ve failed to get his or her memo,” he cracked.
The Obama administration wants private investors and financial institutions to go in with them to buy up what were previously known as “toxic assets” off the books of banks whose books are weighed down by them (see details of the plan here).
But in a deft attempt at rebranding, the White House and Treasury Department are calling the assets “legacy loans and securities.”
“Our new Public-Private Investment Program will set up funds to provide a market for the legacy loans and securities that currently burden the financial system,” Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner wrote in a Wall Street Journal editorial today.
If you want investors to take a chance on buying an asset, you don’t want to refer to it as toxic. That’s Sales 101.
— Jon Ward, White House reporter, The Washington Times