Category : The September 2008 Proposed Henry Paulson 700 Billion Bailout Package

Jonathan Weil–Hope for Treasury Bailout Profits Rests on Fuzzy Math

Here’s a breakdown of the numbers. The report, citing White House budget office figures, estimated $46 billion of costs under the Troubled Asset Relief Program to support struggling homeowners. It showed $2 billion of overall gains on the Treasury’s investments in various bailed-out companies, such as American International Group Inc. (AIG), some of which are held outside of TARP. Other Treasury programs to buy mortgage-backed securities and to guarantee money-market funds would produce $26 billion of gains, the report said.

Add up those categories, and the projected net cost so far is $18 billion. On top of that, there’s the current net cost of the government-sponsored housing financiers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which the Treasury pegged at $151 billion. So how did Treasury project a potential gain overall?

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Credit Markets, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Federal Reserve, Politics in General, The Banking System/Sector, The National Deficit, The September 2008 Proposed Henry Paulson 700 Billion Bailout Package, The U.S. Government, Theology, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner

Barry Ritholtz– TARP + GSE: $257 Billion in the Red

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Budget, Economy, House of Representatives, Housing/Real Estate Market, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate, The 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout Plan, The 2009 Obama Administration Housing Amelioration Plan, The National Deficit, The Possibility of a Bailout for the U.S. Auto Industry, The September 2008 Proposed Henry Paulson 700 Billion Bailout Package, The U.S. Government, The United States Currency (Dollar etc)

CBS' 60 Minutes: Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke's Take On The Economy

[Scott] Pelley: How would you rate the likelihood of dipping into recession again?

[Ben] Bernanke: It doesn’t seem likely that we’ll have a double dip recession. And that’s because, among other things, some of the most cyclical parts of the economy, like housing, for example, are already very weak. And they can’t get much weaker. And so another decline is relatively unlikely. Now, that being said, I think a very high unemployment rate for a protracted period of time, which makes consumers, households less confident, more worried about the future, I think that’s the primary source of risk that we might have another slowdown in the economy.

Pelley: You seem to be saying that the recovery that we’re experiencing now is not self-sustaining.

Bernanke: It may not be. It’s very close to the border. It takes about two and a half percent growth just to keep unemployment stable. And that’s about what we’re getting. We’re not very far from the level where the economy is not self-sustaining.

The debate on Capitol Hill this week is over whether to extend the Bush tax cuts, which would likely increase the budget deficit.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, Federal Reserve, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Taxes, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The National Deficit, The September 2008 Proposed Henry Paulson 700 Billion Bailout Package, The U.S. Government

FT: European banks took big slice of Fed aid

Foreign banks were among the biggest beneficiaries of the $3,300bn in emergency credit provided by the Federal Reserve during the crisis, according to new data on the extraordinary efforts of the US authorities to save the global financial system.

The revelation of the scale of overseas lenders’ borrowing underlines the global nature of the turmoil and the crucial role of the Fed as the lender of last resort for the world’s banking sector.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Economy, Europe, Federal Reserve, The 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout Plan, The Banking System/Sector, The September 2008 Proposed Henry Paulson 700 Billion Bailout Package, The U.S. Government

Ross Douthat–The Great Bailout Backlash

The bailout became law because the legislative branch was stampeded with the threats of certain doom. It vested unprecedented economic authority in a single unelected official, the secretary of the Treasury. And it used public funds to insulate well-connected private actors from the consequences of their recklessness. Its creation short-circuited republican self-government, and its execution created moral hazard on an epic scale. It may have been an economic necessity, but it felt like a travesty nonetheless.

This is why it should be possible to both sympathize with the politicians who voted for the bailout and welcome their rebuke at the ballot box. Faced with extraordinary circumstances ”” wars, natural disasters, economic crises ”” political leaders will always incline toward a blunt utilitarianism, in which the need for stability trumps more high-minded ideals. But after a crisis has passed, it’s immensely important that the ideals reassert themselves, so that the moral compromises made amid extraordinary times aren’t repeated in ordinary ones as well.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, History, House of Representatives, Office of the President, Politics in General, Psychology, Senate, State Government, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The September 2008 Proposed Henry Paulson 700 Billion Bailout Package

Meredith Whitney Says States May Need Federal Bailout in Next 12 Months

The U.S. government will face pressure to bail out struggling states in the next 12 months, said Meredith Whitney, the banking analyst who correctly predicted Citigroup Inc.’s dividend cut in 2008.

While saying a bailout might not be politically viable, Whitney joined investor Warren Buffett in raising alarm bells about the potential for widespread defaults in the $2.8 trillion municipal bond market. She said state and local issuers have taken on too much debt and that the gap between public spending and revenue is unsustainable.

“People will think the federal government will bail these states out,” Whitney, 40, the founder of Meredith Whitney Advisory Group Inc., said in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “In the Loop.” “It’s going to be an incredibly divisive issue.”

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, House of Representatives, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate, State Government, The 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout Plan, The 2009 Obama Administration Housing Amelioration Plan, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The Possibility of a Bailout for the U.S. Auto Industry, The September 2008 Proposed Henry Paulson 700 Billion Bailout Package, The U.S. Government

Marketplace: Chris Whalen Nails the Government's Poor management of Selling its AIG Stake

Bob Moon: What’s the rush? That’s what investment consultant Chris Whalen was asking today at Institutional Risk Analytics. He says the government seems to be in a hurry to get the word out that it’s aiming to start unloading its $49 billion in AIG shares within the coming year. Whalen warns the market isn’t ready and won’t support it.

Chris Whalen: We’re trying to do a public offering of shares in a company that can’t stand by itself, that has to have government support. That’s not going to work.

Flooding the market with shares, he cautions, is a money-losing proposition. He says it’s the same catch-22 the government faces with General Motors, and has already run up against trying to sell its Citigroup shares. Gauging by AIG’s total market capitalization — the value of all outstanding shares — he argues the idea of taxpayers making all their money back is pie-in-the-sky.

Whalen: The market cap of this company is single digits. They owe us $100 billion, right? So what the market’s telling you is that the company is worth, today, a tenth of what they owe us.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, House of Representatives, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate, Stock Market, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The National Deficit, The September 2008 Proposed Henry Paulson 700 Billion Bailout Package, The U.S. Government, Theology

Gregg Easterbrook (Reuters)–It’s time for Obama to stop declaring new Economic Recovery Plans

Pundits are restless, an election looms ”“ so this week, President Barack Obama is proposing yet another round of special favors, aimed at improving the economy. Prominent columnist Paul Krugman wants the plans to be “bold” and to involve huge amounts of money. Here’s a contrasting view: government should stop declaring recovery plans, bold or otherwise.

Maybe the constant announcing of new plans ”“ especially plans backed by borrowing or tax cuts ”“ is, itself, an impediment to economic growth.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Budget, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, The 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout Plan, The 2009 Obama Administration Housing Amelioration Plan, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009, The National Deficit, The Possibility of a Bailout for the U.S. Auto Industry, The September 2008 Proposed Henry Paulson 700 Billion Bailout Package, The U.S. Government, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner

Barry Ritholtz–Imagining if the Financial Fiasco had been Handled Properly

We don’t have alternative universe laboratories to run control bailout experiments, but we can imagine the alternative outcomes if different actions were taken.

So let’s do just that. Imagine a nation in the midst of an economic crisis, circa September-December 2008. Only this time, there are key differences: 1) A President who understood Capitalism requires insolvent firms to suffer failure (as opposed to a lame duck running out the clock); 2) A Treasury Secretary who was not a former Goldman Sachs CEO, with a misguided sympathy for Wall Street firms at risk of failure (as opposed to overseeing the greatest wealth transfer in human history); 3) A Federal Reserve Chairman who understood the limits of the Federal Reserve (versus a massive expansion of its power and balance sheet).

In my counter factual, the bailouts did not occur. Instead of the Japanese model, the US government went the Swedish route of banking crises: They stepped in with temporary nationalizations, prepackaged bankruptcies, and financial reorganizations; banks write down all of their bad debt, they sell off the paper. Int he end, the goal is to spin out clean, well financed, toxic-asset-free banks into the public markets.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Federal Reserve, History, House of Representatives, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate, The 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout Plan, The 2009 Obama Administration Housing Amelioration Plan, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009, The Possibility of a Bailout for the U.S. Auto Industry, The September 2008 Proposed Henry Paulson 700 Billion Bailout Package, The U.S. Government, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner

Gregory Mankiw: Crisis Economics

The administration’s second assumption, meanwhile, is a matter of academic theories about the sizes of the relevant economic multipliers. Textbook Keynesian economics tells us that government-purchases multipliers are larger than tax-cut multipliers. And, as we have seen, the Obama administration’s economic team consulted these standard models in deciding that spending would be significantly more effective than tax cuts.

But a great deal of recent economic evidence calls that conclusion into question. In an ironic twist, one key piece comes from Christina Romer, who is now chair of Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers. About six months before she took the job, Romer teamed up with her husband and fellow Berkeley economist David Romer to write a paper (“The Macroeconomic Effects of Tax Changes”) that sought to measure the influence of tax policy on GDP. Crucial to the Romers’ method was their effort to identify changes in tax policy made during times of relative economic stability, and driven by a desire to influence economic behavior or activity (to encourage growth, say, or reduce a deficit), rather than those changes made in response to a recession or crisis. By studying such “exogenous” tax-policy changes, the Romers could be more confident that they were in fact measuring the effects of taxes and not those of extraneous conditions.

The Romers’ conclusion, which is at odds with most traditional Keynesian analysis, was that the tax multiplier was 3 ”” in other words, that every dollar spent on tax cuts would boost GDP by $3. This would mean that the tax multiplier is roughly three times larger than Obama’s advisors assumed it was during their policy simulations.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Economy, House of Representatives, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate, The 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout Plan, The 2009 Obama Administration Housing Amelioration Plan, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009, The Possibility of a Bailout for the U.S. Auto Industry, The September 2008 Proposed Henry Paulson 700 Billion Bailout Package, The U.S. Government

Time Magazine Cover Story–The Good and Bad Economy

A new Time poll reveals just how hard the task is: Two-thirds of respondents say they oppose a second government stimulus package. And 53% say the country would have been better off without the first one.

The result is a White House pulled in three directions at once as it tries to repair the economy ”” and ensure that Obama and the Democrats can survive a rising tide of public anger. First, the Obama team is improvising ways to pass piecemeal spending items through a Congress where stimulus has become a toxic word. At the same time, the White House is signaling its concern about that budget deficit that has Tea Partyers raging ”” both through token gestures, like a White House contest that lets the public vote on cost-cutting ideas submitted by federal employees (the winner gets to meet Obama and see his or her idea go in the President’s next budget), and through Obama’s support for the work of a bipartisan deficit commission. And finally, the White House is trying to explain to angry liberals that it’s doing everything possible to keep the economy moving and fight Republican resistance to new spending.

It’s a delicate balancing act, on a par with Obama’s effort to pass health care reform without appearing to get too involved in the details. And just as it did in the health care battle, the future of Obama’s presidency ”” as well as the fate of the American economy ”” may hang on the outcome.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Federal Reserve, History, House of Representatives, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Psychology, State Government, The 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout Plan, The 2009 Obama Administration Housing Amelioration Plan, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009, The National Deficit, The Possibility of a Bailout for the U.S. Auto Industry, The September 2008 Proposed Henry Paulson 700 Billion Bailout Package, The U.S. Government, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner

Jonathan Weil: Bailout Nation Will Thrive as Long as AIG Lives

To believe Christopher Dodd, the Connecticut Democrat who is chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, the end of government bailouts is near. In truth, the financial-overhaul legislation now before Congress would do little to arrest the bailouts already in progress.

When the U.S. government rescued American International Group Inc. in 2008, it reasoned that a disorderly failure of the financial-services giant would lead to an economic catastrophe. What the Treasury and Federal Reserve said they needed was a way to wind down systemically important institutions without sending them into bankruptcy courts, to keep the companies from triggering defaults on their obligations that would cascade throughout the broader financial system.

Congressional leaders say their final bill will deliver the resolution authority regulators have been seeking. “It will end bailouts, ensuring that failing firms can be shut down without relying on taxpayer bailouts or threatening the stability of our economy,” Dodd said June 10 at the House-Senate conference committee where the differences between the two chambers’ bills are being negotiated.

It wouldn’t end AIG’s rescue, though. The reason AIG hasn’t failed is that the Fed and the Treasury continue to stand behind it. There’s no sign this will change anytime soon. Nor would the legislation force the government to do otherwise.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Politics in General, Senate, Stock Market, The 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout Plan, The 2009 Obama Administration Housing Amelioration Plan, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The Possibility of a Bailout for the U.S. Auto Industry, The September 2008 Proposed Henry Paulson 700 Billion Bailout Package, The U.S. Government, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner

Stimulus Talk Yields to Calls to Cut Deficits

“My best guess is that we’ll have a continued recovery, but it won’t feel terrific,” Ben S. Bernanke, the Fed chairman, said at a dinner at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars on Monday night. “And the reason it won’t feel terrific is that it’s not going to be fast enough to put back eight million people who lost their jobs within a few years.”

One could almost envision the winces in the White House as Mr. Bernanke observed that the unemployment rate “will stay high for some time.” He went on to note that even if the economy grew at 3 percent, which would be considered a healthy pace, it would do little more than keep pace with the normal rate of growth of the work force.

Virtually every day of late, White House officials have struggled to explain how their strategies to provide economic stimulus to bring down the unemployment rate square with Mr. Obama’s oft-expressed commitment to tackle a record budget deficit. They talk about spending this year ”” in modest amounts ”” while waiting for the prescriptions of the president’s commission on debt reduction, which reports, conveniently, a few weeks after the midterm elections.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Budget, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Europe, House of Representatives, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009, The National Deficit, The September 2008 Proposed Henry Paulson 700 Billion Bailout Package, The U.S. Government

A Local Newspaper Editorial–End the Hidden Bailout

It is past time to end the conspiracy of silence about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, government-sponsored companies that buy and sell mortgages and related securities. Both were taken over by the Treasury Department in 2008. So far Washington has shelled out $140 billion to keep them afloat. A Congressional Budget Office study says their losses could reach $400 billion. Other estimates put them at $500 billion.

In contrast, the net cost to date of TARP, after loan repayments and other government income, is $172.5 billion, nearly half of which is owed by the auto industry.

While optimists foresee the repayment of most TARP funds, the same cannot be said of Fannie and Freddie, which own well over a trillion dollars in risky mortgages and mortgage-backed securities.

Unlike TARP funds, the subsidies to Fannie and Freddie do not show up in the government’s budget. If they did, it would be even further out of balance.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Budget, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, The 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout Plan, The National Deficit, The September 2008 Proposed Henry Paulson 700 Billion Bailout Package, The U.S. Government

Caroline Baum–European Leaders Dozed During TARP Class

When U.S. authorities faced financial panic in 2008, their first response was to pump liquidity into the system. It was access to credit, not the quality of credit, that was the issue, they thought.

It turned out they were wrong. U.S. banks were facing a full-fledged solvency crisis. They owned assets that weren’t worth the paper their financial statements were printed on. Congress appropriated $700 billion to recapitalize the banks.

Fast forward 19 months and travel east across the Atlantic where Europe’s leaders confronted a home-grown sovereign debt crisis, a rout in financial markets and a loss of confidence in the euro. Their solution? Lend more money to already indebted countries.

Europe’s leaders must have been snoozing in the back row when the teacher conducted the TARP review class. (TARP stands for Troubled Asset Relief Program.) You can’t recapitalize a sovereign nation by issuing more debt. In the same way that more lending couldn’t enhance U.S. banks’ capital adequacy, “extending more credit to (European) nations that can’t service their accumulated debt won’t make them more creditworthy,” says Carl Weinberg, chief economist at High Frequency Economics in Valhalla, New York.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Credit Markets, Economy, Europe, Politics in General, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The September 2008 Proposed Henry Paulson 700 Billion Bailout Package