- The Washington Times - Friday, March 13, 2009

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Federal Reserve is giving investors two extra days to sign up for a $1 trillion program to jumpstart lending to consumers and small businesses.

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York on Friday extended the deadline at the request of would-be participants _ such as hedge funds and private-equity firms _ to give them more time to complete their paperwork. Investors now must have their loan requests in to the Fed by March 19. The Fed will provide the three-year loans on March 25.

The much-awaited program, created by the Fed and the Treasury Department, will start off providing up to $200 billion in financing to investors, which in turn will use the money to buy newly issued securities backed by the loans. The program aims to spur lending for autos, education, credit cards and other loans for consumers as well as for small business.

Participants must pledge eligible collateral to back the loans.

The program, dubbed the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility, was first announced late last year and originally was scheduled to start in February. It will be expanded to include commercial real estate, though that won’t be part of the initial rollout.

The Fed and the Obama administration are hoping the program will help break through credit clogs and get financing flowing more freely again to people and businesses.

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