Remember when TARP 1 was supposed to be used to ease the credit crunch and free up money for small businesses? Remember when AIG was considered too big to fail? Now that $186 Billion Dollar Fiasco continues.
A timeline is in order, and I ask that you read this until you understand it. It is time to stop skimming and skipping. What is happening to our country is going on because we have told ourselves that the economic aspects of our lives are just too damn complex to understand. We have allowed people outside ourselves to brainwash us into thinking we are “too stupid”. This is one American that is telling you that 2+2=4, and that the bean counters using red crayons are just trying to brainwash you into thinking that you won’t ever “get it”. It’s pretty damn simple, just take the time, make the effort, ask questions! Unless Turbo Tax Timmie’s IQ approaches 160, he is not as smart as most of my readers.
Last September the government took over AIG in a $85 Billion Bailout:
The U.S. government seized control of American International Group Inc. — one of the world’s biggest insurers — in an $85 billion deal that signaled the intensity of its concerns about the danger a collapse could pose to the financial system.
The step marks a dramatic turnabout for the federal government, which had been strongly resisting overtures from AIG for an emergency loan or some intervention that would prevent the insurer from falling into bankruptcy. Just last weekend, the government essentially pulled the plug on Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., allowing the big investment bank to go under instead of giving it financial support. This time, the government decided AIG truly was too big to fail.
It puts the government in control of a private insurer — a historic development, particularly considering that AIG isn’t directly regulated by the federal government. The Fed took the highly unusual step using legal authority granted in the Federal Reserve Act, which allows it to lend to nonbanks under “unusual and exigent” circumstances, something it invoked when Bear Stearns Cos. was rescued in March.
As part of the deal, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson insisted that AIG’s chief executive, Robert Willumstad, step aside. Mr. Paulson personally told Mr. Willumstad the news in a phone call on Tuesday, according to a person familiar with the call.
Mr. Willumstad will be succeeded by Edward Liddy, the former head of insurer Allstate Corp. (Make sure to read this article near the end for info on Mr. Liddy.)
The final decision to help AIG came Tuesday as the federal government concluded it would be “catastrophic” to allow the insurer to fail, according to a person familiar with the matter. Over the weekend, federal officials had tried to get the private sector to pony up some funds. But when that effort failed, Fed Chairman Bernanke, New York Fed President Timothy Geithner and Treasury Secretary Paulson concluded that federal assistance was needed to avert an AIG bankruptcy, which they feared could have disastrous repercussions.
Staff from the Federal Reserve and Treasury worked on the plan through Monday night. President George W. Bush was briefed on the rescue Tuesday afternoon during a meeting of the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets.
Now, however, Mr. Willumstad himself will be leaving, after having been asked to step aside by the Treasury’s Mr. Paulson. Mr. Willumstad, who recently took over as AIG’s chief executive to try to turn around the firm, was surprised by the request. “If that’s what you want, I’ll do it,” he said to Mr. Paulson, according to a person familiar with the call. AIG’s board was unhappy with the decision but felt it had no choice but to go along, as the only other option was bankruptcy.
The fate of a corporate chief executive is normally the province of a board of directors. The decision by the Treasure Secretary to essentially oust Mr. Willumstad underscores further the magnitude of the government’s intervention.
Mr. Willumstad’s departure marks the end of a brief, tumultuous run. He joined AIG as a director in early 2006, after leaving the No. 2 post at Citigroup Inc., and became AIG’s chairman later that year. In June, as AIG was reeling from record losses, the board forced out Mr. Willumstad’s predecessor and gave him the top job. He had planned to unveil his own strategy for AIG on Sept. 25.
By tapping Mr. Liddy as AIG’s next CEO, the government is turning to someone with deep experience in the insurance industry, having served as chief executive of Allstate from 1999 to 2006. He stepped down as chairman earlier this year. Allstate is a different type of insurer than AIG, focusing on selling car and home insurance to Americans, whereas AIG sells an array of insurance policies to individuals and businesses world-wide.
Mr. Liddy also has experience pulling apart empires, having helped dismantle Sears, Roebuck & Co. (from which Allstate was spun off) in the 1990s. Before joining Sears, Mr. Liddy worked under Donald Rumsfeld at drug maker G.D. Searle & Co. Mr. Liddy is on the board at Goldman Sachs Group, the investment bank that Mr. Paulson led before becoming Treasury Secretary.
Then in November, 2008:
WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) – The government restructured its bailout of American International Group Inc, raising the package to a record $150 billion with easier terms, after a smaller rescue plan failed to stabilize the ailing insurance giant.
The Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department announced the new plan on Monday as AIG reported a record third-quarter loss of $24.47 billion, largely from write-downs of investments.
The new package, at least $27 billion more than was previously extended, will leave the government exposed to billions of dollars of potential losses.
Under the new plan, the government will get a $40 billion equity stake in AIG, spend as much as $30 billion on securities underlying the insurer’s credit default swaps, and spend up to $22.5 billion to buy residential mortgage securities.
It will also reduce a previously announced credit line to $60 billion from $85 billion, and lower interest rates on borrowings. AIG will also accept curbs on executive pay, including a freeze of bonuses for its top 70 executives.
The $40 billion equity infusion comes from the $700 billion financial bailout package passed into law last month.
That package was originally intended for banks, and AIG is the first company other than a bank to get money from it. It was created after the government announced the original $85 billion bailout package for AIG on September 16.
“Today’s action was a one-off event,” Neel Kashkari, the Treasury Department’s interim assistant secretary for financial stability, said at a conference in New York. “It is not the start of a new program.”
March 8, 2009:
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Where, oh where, did AIG’s bailout billions go? That question may reverberate even louder through the halls of government in the week ahead now that a partial list of beneficiaries has been published.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that about $50 billion of more than $173 billion that the U.S. government has poured into American International Group Inc since last fall has been paid to at least two dozen U.S. and foreign financial institutions.
The newspaper reported that some of the banks paid by AIG since the insurer started getting taxpayer funds were: Goldman Sachs Group Inc, Deutsche Bank AG, Merrill Lynch, Societe Generale, Calyon, Barclays Plc, Rabobank, Danske, HSBC, Royal Bank of Scotland, Banco Santander, Morgan Stanley, Wachovia, Bank of America, and Lloyds Banking Group. (With a few exceptions, almost every one of these institutions has been here reading the Monster…)
Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs declined to comment when contacted by Reuters. Bank of America, Calyon, and Wells Fargo, which has absorbed Wachovia, could not be reached for comment.
The U.S. Federal Reserve has refused to publicize a list of AIG’s derivative counterparties and what they have been paid since the bailout, riling the U.S. Senate Banking Committee.
Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Donald Kohn testified before that committee on Thursday that revealing names risked jeopardizing AIG’s continuing business. Kohn said there were millions of counterparties around the globe, including pension funds and U.S. households.
He said the intention was not to protect AIG or its counterparties, but to prevent the spread of AIG’s infection.
The Wall Street Journal, citing a confidential document and people familiar with the matter, reported that Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank each got about $6 billion in payments between the middle of September and December last year.
Once the world’s largest insurer, AIG has been described by the United States as being too extensively intertwined with the global financial system to be allowed to fail.
The Federal Reserve first rode to AIG’s rescue in September with an $85 billion credit line after losses from toxic investments, many of which were mortgage related, and collateral demands from banks, left AIG staring down bankruptcy.
Late last year, the rescue packaged was increased to $150 billion. The bailout was overhauled again a week ago to offer the insurer an additional $30 billion in equity.
AIG was first bailed out shortly after investment bank Lehman Brothers was allowed to fail and brokerage Merrill Lynch sold itself to Bank of America Corp.
Bankruptcy for AIG would have led to complications and losses for financial institutions around the world doing business with the company and policy holders that AIG insured against losses.
Representative Paul Kanjorski told Reuters on Thursday that he had been informed that a large number of AIG’s counterparties were European.
“That’s why we could not allow AIG to fail as we allowed Lehman to fail, because that would have precipitated the failure of the European banking system,” said Kanjorski, a Democrat from Pennsylvania who chairs the House Insurance Subcommittee.
March 15, 2009:
From one Sunday talk show to the next, they tore into the contracts that American International Group asserted had to be honored, to the tune of about $165 million and payable to executives by Sunday — part of a larger total payout reportedly valued at $450 million. The company has benefited from more than $170 billion in a federal rescue.
In a letter to Geithner dated Saturday, Liddy said outside lawyers had informed the company that AIG had contractual obligations to make the bonus payments and could face lawsuits if it did not do so. (What about the ban on bonuses as part of the original bailout in September? Go back to the top for that quote.)
Liddy said in his letter that “quite frankly, AIG’s hands are tied,” although he said that in light of the company’s current situation he found it “distasteful and difficult” to recommend going forward with the payments.
Liddy said the company had entered into the bonus agreements in early 2008 before AIG got into severe financial straits and was forced to obtain a government bailout last fall.
The bulk of the payments at issue cover AIG Financial Products, the unit of the company that sold credit default swaps, the risky contracts that caused massive losses for the insurer.
March 15, 2009: (ARE YOU READY FOR THIS? Do not EVEN try to tell me that the “New World Order Central Bank Theory” is a conspiracy.)
WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) – More than half of the taxpayer money spent to rescue insurer AIG was passed on to Goldman Sachs and several European banks, who benefited from more than $90 billion in payments in the first three-and-a-half months of the government bailout, AIG disclosed on Sunday.
The revelation was another public relations nightmare, coming on the same weekend that the Obama administration expressed outrage over American International Group Inc’s plan to pay massive bonuses to the people in the very division that destroyed the company by issuing billions of dollars in derivatives insuring risky assets.
AIG, an embattled insurance giant that has received federal bailouts totaling $173 billion and is now paying $165 million in employee bonuses, is at the heart of a global financial crisis that President Barack Obama is trying to address with plans for trillions of dollars in spending.
As part of those efforts, Obama will announce steps on Monday to make it easier for small business owners to borrow money, officials said. (…and this is what they should have been doing all along!)
But the revelations that billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars were funneled through AIG to Goldman Sachs — one of Wall Street’s most politically connected firms — and to European banks including Deutsche Bank, France’s Societe Generale and the UK’s Barclays was likely to stoke further outrage at the entire U.S. bank bailout.
While the payments were not illegal, the fact that billions of dollars given to prop up giant insurer AIG were then transferred to European banks and Wall Street investment houses could raise new doubts about whether the rescue was really economically necessary. (Ya Think?)
Goldman Sachs, formerly led by Henry Paulson who was treasury secretary at the time of the original AIG bailout, could not immediately be reached for comment. Deutsche Bank and Barclays declined to comment.
As it seeks to ease the credit crunch that was the original target of the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP), the Treasury will also offer more details this week about the workings of proposed public-private partnerships to take toxic assets off banks’ books, including a timeframe, a senior department official said on Saturday. (Remember TARP 1 was to ease the credit crunch?)
Through three separate types of transactions, Goldman received an aggregate $12.9 billion. Among European banks, SocGen was the biggest recipient at $11.9 billion, Deutsche got $11.8 billion and Barclays was paid $8.5 billion.
The list of counterparties was made public by AIG amid growing pressure on the insurer to come clean about the true beneficiaries of the bailout ahead of a congressional hearing on Wednesday at which AIG chief executive Edward Liddy is slated to testify.
…and more details:
AIG says emergency aid used to pay other banks
NEW YORK (AP) — American International Group Inc. used more than $90 billion in federal aid to pay out foreign and domestic banks, some of whom had received their own multibillion-dollar U.S. government bailouts.
The embattled insurer’s disclosure on Sunday came amid outrage on Capitol Hill over its payment of tens of millions in executive bonuses, and followed demands from lawmakers that the names of trading partners who indirectly benefited from federal aid to AIG be made public.
The company, now about 80 percent owned by U.S. taxpayers, has received roughly $170 billion from the government, which feared that its collapse could cause widespread damage to banks and consumers around the globe.
“The ability of AIG to meet its obligations is important to the stability of the U.S. financial system and to getting credit flowing to households and businesses,” Federal Reserve spokeswoman Michelle Smith said.
Some of the biggest recipients of the AIG money were Goldman Sachs at $12.9 billion, and three European banks – France’s Societe Generale at $11.9 billion, Germany’s Deutsche Bank at $11.8 billion, and Britain’s Barclays PLC at $8.5 billion. Merrill Lynch, which also is undergoing federal scrutiny of its bonus plans, received $6.8 billion as of Dec. 31.
The money went to banks to cover their losses on complex mortgage investments, as well as for collateral needed for other transactions.
Other banks receiving between $1 billion and $3 billion from AIG’s securities lending unit include Citigroup Inc., Switzerland’s UBS AG and Morgan Stanley.
Municipalities in certain states, including California, Virginia and Hawaii, received a total of $12.1 billion under guaranteed investment agreements.
Our government and the privately held Federal Reserve Banking Cartel give money to AIG, and they gave it to not only FOREIGN BANKS, but they gave it to other American Banks that already were getting bailed out by us. What are we going to do about it?
Are you sick to death of “the game” yet?
It is the day after the Democrats in the House passed the $819B, (really $1.2 Trillion), stimulus/spending package with all of Nancy’s pet projects getting their share of our pie, and what do I wake up to? The DOW has given back half of it’s gains from yesterday (so far), and two articles that are surely going to make y’all feel warm and fuzzy today:
Hill Republican: Stimulus Aids Illegal Immigrants: (Your tax dollars at work!)
WASHINGTON (AP) – The $800 billion-plus economic stimulus measure making its way through Congress could steer government checks to illegal immigrants, a top Republican congressional official asserted Thursday.The legislation, which would send tax credits of $500 per worker and $1,000 per couple, expressly disqualifies nonresident aliens, but it would allow people who don’t have Social Security numbers to be eligible for the checks.
Undocumented immigrants who are not eligible for a Social Security number can file tax returns with an alternative number. A House-passed version of the economic recovery bill and one making its way through the Senate would allow anyone with such a number, called an individual taxpayer identification number, to qualify for the tax credits.
A revolt among GOP conservatives to similar provisions of a 2008 economic stimulus bill, which sent rebate checks to most wage earners, forced Democratic congressional leaders to add stricter eligibility requirements. That legislation, enacted in February 2008, required that people have valid Social Security numbers in order to get checks.
And an article that is probably more important considering everything that we have been learning about The Fed, The Treasury, Ben Bernanke, Hank Paulson, Timothy Geithner and the NY Bank cabal that is ruining our country:
New Bank Bailout Could Cost $2 Trillion (What? I thought the first $700B was to bailout the banks and buy up the bad assets according to Paulson. Exactly how long are we going to let them lie to us?)
WASHINGTON — Government officials seeking to revamp the U.S. financial bailout have discussed spending another $1 trillion to $2 trillion to help restore banks to health, according to people familiar with the matter.
President Barack Obama’s new administration is wrestling with how to stem the continuing loss of confidence in the financial system, as it divides up the remaining $350 billion from the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program launched last fall. The potential size of rescue efforts being discussed suggests the administration may need to ask Congress for more funds. Some of the remaining $350 billion of TARP funds has already been earmarked for other efforts, including aid to auto makers and to homeowners facing foreclosure.
The administration, which could announce its plans within days, hasn’t yet made a determination on the final shape of its new proposal, and the exact details could change. Among the issues officials are wrestling with: How to fix damaged financial institutions without ending up owning them.
The aim is to encourage banks to begin lending again and investors to put private capital back into financial institutions. The administration is expected to take a series of steps, including relieving banks of bad loans and distressed securities. The so-called “bad bank” that would buy these assets could be seeded with $100 billion to $200 billion from the TARP funds, with the rest of the money — as much as $1 trillion to $2 trillion — raised by selling government-backed debt or borrowing from the Federal Reserve. (…and what is the interest going to be on $2T when $887B has $347Billion in interest? We should probably be talking about 5 future generations in debt to the Fed instead of just three.)
A Treasury spokeswoman said that “while lots of options are on the table, there are no final decisions” on what she described as a “comprehensive plan.” She added: “The president has made it clear that he’ll do whatever it takes to stabilize our financial system so that we can get credit flowing again to families and businesses.” (8 Trillion has gone into saving the banks and insurance companies so far with no effect; what is another $2 Trillion going to do?)
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said Wednesday that he wants to avoid nationalizing banks if possible. “We’d like to do our best to preserve that system,” Mr. Geithner said. But given the weakened state of the banking industry, with bank share prices low and their capital needs high, economists say the government probably can’t avoid owning at least some banks for a temporary period. (I suspect Geithner is lying, just like Paulson and Bernanke did.)
But buying common shares raises the likelihood that weaker banks will become largely government-owned. Bank share prices are so low that any sizable government investment in a bank would give the U.S. effective control of it.
The best approach is to have banks “under pretty heavy government control as briefly as possible — basically long enough to take off the bad assets and recapitalize — and sell the back to full private control as quickly as possible,” said Adam Posen, deputy director of the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington. (“Sell the bank to full private control as quickly as possible; does anybody really think that is going to happen?)
I am going to get into so much trouble for saying this out loud, but I am going to say it while I still can. So the question would be, when are Americans going to start marching peaceably in the streets requiring the resignation and prosecution of all these liars and thieves?
(P.S. I would like to extend a warm welcome to the Microsoft, Yahoo, Apple, IBM, and Google corporations for their patronage. I would also like to thank NASA for their return visit. If you want to know what NASA is actually looking at, email me.)
Treasury Monday night added $6 billion to the $17.4 billion bailout announced Dec. 19, chiefly to help the financial arm of General Motors Corp. Photo: AP
If you do not think Hank Paulson is an enemy of the United States after everything he has done in the last six months in regards to the original 3 Page Bailout Proposal, and now our Tax Dollars (Bailout Money) disappearing into the ether, take a gander at this!
Stepping into deeper waters to help the auto industry, Treasury Monday night added $6 billion to the $17.4 billion bailout announced Dec. 19, chiefly to help the financial arm of General Motors Corp. (emphasis mine)
Using financial markets rescue funds, Treasury will purchase $5 billion in senior preferred equity from GMAC LLC, and up to $1 billion more will be lent to GM itself so the automaker can participate in a rights offering at GMAC, which has wanted to reorganize itself as a bank holding company. (WTF? Are You Freakin’ Kidding Me?)
GMAC won approval from the Federal Reserve last week to become a bank holding company, but that was contingent on the auto and home loan provider raising at least $30 billion in capital. Treasury’s announcement would appear to move GMAC closer to that goal, and a GM spokeswoman was optimistic Monday night.
From Treasury’s standpoint, the new commitment raises again the pressure on the White House, Congress and the incoming Obama administration to come together on some plan for releasing the second half of the $700 billion financial rescue fund enacted in October. (Paulson wants the rest of the money after the first $350 Billion disappeared and this is just another strong-arm tactic.)
At what point are Americans going to say “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH” and march on D.C. to show our disapproval of ONE MAN having so much power?
Are we going to allow Hank Paulson and Ben Bernanke to destroy our monetary system by throwing good money after bad, AND printing as much money as they need creating super-inflation and a diminishing dollar?
Wake Up America; these guys are not smarter than us unless you count shady, greedy, self-enrichment as intelligent qualities.
I suppose it is okay for the Fed to follow the lead of The One when it comes to refusing to disclose any important documents.
Dec. 12 (Bloomberg) — The Federal Reserve refused a request by Bloomberg News to disclose the recipients of more than $2 trillion of emergency loans from U.S. taxpayers and the assets the central bank is accepting as collateral.
Bloomberg filed suit Nov. 7 under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act requesting details about the terms of 11 Fed lending programs, most created during the deepest financial crisis since the Great Depression.
The Fed responded Dec. 8, saying it’s allowed to withhold internal memos as well as information about trade secrets and commercial information. The institution confirmed that a records search found 231 pages of documents pertaining to some of the requests.
“If they told us what they held, we would know the potential losses that the government may take and that’s what they don’t want us to know,” said Carlos Mendez, a senior managing director at New York-based ICP Capital LLC, which oversees $22 billion in assets.
This is reminding me of Paulson going to the White House with 3 pages about the the Bailout Bill, and IMHO, it probably was scrawled in crayon considering these people HAVE NO IDEA how to fix this problem.
Do you want to know where that $2 TRILLION went?
Wow, the average American that was screaming to NOT bailout the banks and everybody else that has lined up since was right, and the guys who started the dominos falling, Paulson and Bernanke (besides backing The One), were wrong. Please remember that all of the dominos started when the Fed stepped in and took over Fannie and Freddie and caused Lehman to fold because of it. (H/T to “Francis Of The Traders)
From Bloomberg and make sure to go to this link and read it all:
Nov. 24 (Bloomberg) — The U.S. government is prepared to lend more than $7.4 trillion on behalf of American taxpayers, or half the value of everything produced in the nation last year, to rescue the financial system since the credit markets seized up 15 months ago.
The unprecedented pledge of funds includes $2.8 trillion already tapped by financial institutions in the biggest response to an economic emergency since the New Deal of the 1930s, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The commitment dwarfs the only plan approved by lawmakers, the Treasury Department’s $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program. Federal Reserve lending last week was 1,900 times the weekly average for the three years before the crisis.
When Congress approved the TARP on Oct. 3, Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson acknowledged the need for transparency and oversight. Now, as regulators commit far more money while refusing to disclose loan recipients or reveal the collateral they are taking in return, some Congress members are calling for the Fed to be reined in.
“Whether it’s lending or spending, it’s tax dollars that are going out the window and we end up holding collateral we don’t know anything about,” said Congressman Scott Garrett, a New Jersey Republican who serves on the House Financial Services Committee. “The time has come that we consider what sort of limitations we should be placing on the Fed so that authority returns to elected officials as opposed to appointed ones.”
Too Big to Fail
Bloomberg News tabulated data from the Fed, Treasury and Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and interviewed regulatory officials, economists and academic researchers to gauge the full extent of the government’s rescue effort.
The bailout includes a Fed program to buy as much as $2.4 trillion in short-term notes, called commercial paper, that companies use to pay bills, begun Oct. 27, and $1.4 trillion from the FDIC to guarantee bank-to-bank loans, started Oct. 14.
William Poole, former president of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, said the two programs are unlikely to lose money. The bigger risk comes from rescuing companies perceived as “too big to fail,” he said.
The government committed $29 billion to help engineer the takeover in March of Bear Stearns Cos. by New York-based JPMorgan Chase & Co. and $122.8 billion in addition to TARP allocations to bail out New York-based American International Group Inc., once the world’s largest insurer. Yesterday, Citigroup Inc. received $306 billion of government guarantees for troubled mortgages and toxic assets. The Treasury Department also will inject $20 billion into the bank after its stock fell 60 percent last week.
“No question there is some credit risk there,” Poole said.
Congressman Darrell Issa, a California Republican on the Financial Services Committee, said risk is lurking in the programs that Poole thinks are safe.
“The thing that people don’t understand is it’s not how likely that the exposure becomes a reality, but what if it does?” Issa said. “There’s no transparency to it so who’s to say they’re right?”
The worst financial crisis in two generations has erased $23 trillion, or 38 percent, of the value of the world’s companies and brought down three of the biggest Wall Street firms.
Regulators hope the rescue will contain the damage and keep banks providing the credit that is the lifeblood of the U.S. economy.
Most of the spending programs are run out of the New York Fed, whose president, Timothy Geithner, is said to be President- elect Barack Obama’s choice to be Treasury Secretary.
The money that’s been pledged is equivalent to $24,000 for every man, woman and child in the country. It’s nine times what the U.S. has spent so far on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to Congressional Budget Office figures. It could pay off more than half the country’s mortgages.
“It’s unprecedented,” said Bob Eisenbeis, chief monetary economist at Vineland, New Jersey-based Cumberland Advisors Inc. and an economist for the Atlanta Fed for 10 years until January. “The backlash has begun already. Congress is taking a lot of hits from their constituents because they got snookered on the TARP big time. There’s a lot of supposedly smart people who look to be totally incompetent and it’s all going to fall on the taxpayer.”
Bloomberg has requested details of Fed lending under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act and filed a federal lawsuit against the central bank Nov. 7 seeking to force disclosure of borrower banks and their collateral.
Collateral is an asset pledged to a lender in the event a loan payment isn’t made.
“Some have asked us to reveal the names of the banks that are borrowing, how much they are borrowing, what collateral they are posting,” Bernanke said Nov. 18 to the House Financial Services Committee. “We think that’s counterproductive.”
The Fed should account for the collateral it takes in exchange for loans to banks, said Paul Kasriel, chief economist at Chicago-based Northern Trust Co. and a former research economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
“There is a lack of transparency here and, given that the Fed is taking on a huge amount of credit risk now, it would seem to me as a taxpayer there should be more transparency,” Kasriel said.
Bernanke’s Fed is responsible for $4.4 trillion of pledges, or 60 percent of the total commitment of $7.4 trillion, based on data compiled by Bloomberg concerning U.S. bailout steps started a year ago.
“Too often the public is focused on the wrong piece of that number, the $700 billion that Congress approved,” said J.D. Foster, a former staff member of the Council of Economic Advisers who is now a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation in Washington. “The other areas are quite a bit larger.”
The Fed’s rescue attempts began last December with the creation of the Term Auction Facility to allow lending to dealers for collateral. After Bear Stearns’s collapse in March, the central bank started making direct loans to securities firms at the same discount rate it charges commercial banks, which take customer deposits.
In the three years before the crisis, such average weekly borrowing by banks was $48 million, according to the central bank. Last week it was $91.5 billion.
The failure of a second securities firm, Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., in September, led to the creation of the Commercial Paper Funding Facility and the Money Market Investor Funding Facility, or MMIFF. The two programs, which have pledged $2.3 trillion, are designed to restore calm in the money markets, which deal in certificates of deposit, commercial paper and Treasury bills.
“Money markets seized up after Lehman failed,” said Neal Soss, chief economist at Credit Suisse Group in New York and a former aide to Fed chief Paul Volcker. “Lehman failing made a lot of subsequent actions necessary.”
Some of the bailout assistance could come from tax breaks in the future. The Treasury Department changed the tax code on Sept. 30 to allow banks to expand the deductions on the losses banks they were buying, according to Robert Willens, a former Lehman Brothers tax and accounting analyst who teaches at Columbia University Business School in New York.
‘Wells Fargo Notice’
Wells Fargo & Co., which is buying Charlotte, North Carolina-based Wachovia Corp., will be able to deduct $22 billion, Willens said. Adding in other banks, the code change will cost $29 billion, he said.
“The rule is now popularly known among tax lawyers as the ‘Wells Fargo Notice,’” Willens said.
The regulation was changed to make it easier for healthy banks to buy troubled ones, said Treasury Department spokesman Andrew DeSouza.
House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank said he was angry that banks used the money for acquisitions.
“The only purpose for this money is to lend,” said Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat. “It’s not for dividends, it’s not for purchases of new banks, it’s not for bonuses. There better be a showing of increased lending roughly in the amount of the capital infusions” or Congress may not approve the second half of the TARP money. (Now Barney is trying to look like he is on the side of the American People?)
Ladies and Gentlemen – do you recognize what they are actually doing right now, or is it just a general uneasiness in your midsection? I would suggest screaming at your elected officials, but that has not accomplished anything in the past. Are you ready to oust the whole Congress? I am…