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Banking Bailout News Articles

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Excerpts of Key Banking Bailout News Articles in Major Media

Below are many highly revealing one-paragraph excerpts of important bank bailout articles from the mainstream media, originally posted at Links are provided to the full articles on major media websites. If any link should fail to function, click here. These bank bailout news articles are listed by order of importance. For the same articles by date posted to this list, click here. For the list by date of news article click here. By choosing to educate ourselves on these important issues and to spread the word, we can and will build a brighter future.

Treasury gives banks multi-billion tax break windfall 2008-11-11, San Francisco Chronicle/Associated Press

Some of the nation's biggest banks are in for a windfall on top of the $700 billion government bailout thanks to a new tax policy quietly issued by the Treasury Department. The notice gives big tax breaks to companies that acquire struggling banks hit hard by the mortgage crisis. In some cases, the tax breaks could exceed the cost of acquiring the banks, according to analyses by private tax experts. The change could cost the Treasury as much as $140 billion by enabling firms that acquire struggling banks to use more losses incurred by those banks to offset their own taxable profits. San Francisco's Wells Fargo & Co., which made a bid to acquire Wachovia Corp. just days after the notice was issued, stands to reap about $20 billion in additional tax savings because of the change, according to the analyses. Wells Fargo paid $14.8 billion in a stock deal to buy Wachovia. The notice was issued Sept. 30 as Congress debated the $700 billion bailout plan. Some members of Congress are upset that such a sweeping tax change was issued with no public hearings or congressional input. "I am concerned that the notice, which was never debated by Congress, could end up costing taxpayers tens of billions of more dollars on top of the hundreds of billions of dollars already approved by Congress in the financial rescue plan," Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a letter last week to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. Some tax lawyers questioned the legality of the notice. Before the notice was issued, the merged bank could write off only a limited amount of the losses. The notice removed those restrictions, enabling the acquiring banks to make huge reductions in their tax liabilities.Note: With no limitations placed on the nine biggest banks receiving many billions of dollars in bailout money, they are free to buy up smaller banks. And they will likely receive huge tax breaks, sometimes even greater than the purchase price, for doing so! For many revealing, reliable reports on the Wall Street bailout, click here.

New Terrain for Panel on Bailout 2008-11-04, New York Times Having been handed vast authority and almost no restrictions in the bailout law that Congress passed ... a committee of five little-known government officials, aided by a bare-bones staff of 40, is picking winners and losers among thousands of banks, savings and loans, insurers and other institutions. It is new and unfamiliar terrain for the officials, who are making monumental decisions - a form of industrial policy, some critics say - that contradict the free market philosophy they usually espouse. Predictably, the process is stirring alarm from Capitol Hill to Wall Street. Among the problems, critics say, is that despite earlier promises of transparency, the process is shrouded in secrecy, its precise goals opaque. Treasury officials have refused to disclose their criteria for deciding which banks ... get money. And officials have yet to say they even have a broader strategy, though banking executives are convinced the government wants to encourage acquisitions. Already, critics from Capitol Hill to Wall Street are lashing out at the program, saying the banks are misusing the capital infusions by hoarding the money rather than lending it. The government, the critics say, is wrongly steering funds to banks to take over weaker rivals. All this comes after Mr. Paulson abruptly shifted the focus of the program to injecting capital rather than buying distressed mortgage-related assets from the banks. This meant that Congress had never debated the details of how the government ought to carry out a recapitalization.Note: With the intense secrecy and all of the lobbyist and big guns for banking fighting for hundreds of billions of dollars given practically free by the government, do you really think these "five little-known government officials" will be impartial in their decisions? For many revealing, reliable reports on the Wall Street bailout, click here.

So When Will Banks Give Loans? 2008-10-25, New York Times "Chase recently received $25 billion in federal funding. What effect will that have on the business side and will it change our strategic lending policy?" It was Oct. 17, just four days after JPMorgan Chase's chief executive, Jamie Dimon, agreed to take a $25 billion capital injection courtesy of the United States government, when a JPMorgan employee asked that question [during] an employee-only conference call. The JPMorgan executive who was moderating the employee conference call didn't hesitate to answer. "What we ... think it will help us do is perhaps be a little bit more active on the acquisition side or opportunistic side for some banks who are still struggling. I think there are going to be some great opportunities for us to grow in this environment, and I think we have an opportunity to use that $25 billion in that way." Read that answer as many times as you want - you are not going to find a single word in there about making loans to help the American economy. On the contrary: It is starting to appear as if one of Treasury's key rationales for the recapitalization program - namely, that it will cause banks to start lending again - is a fig leaf, Treasury's version of the weapons of mass destruction. In fact, Treasury wants banks to acquire each other and is using its power to inject capital to force a new and wrenching round of bank consolidation. Treasury would even funnel some of the bailout money to help banks buy other banks. And, in an almost unnoticed move, it recently put in place a new tax break, worth billions to the banking industry, that has only one purpose: to encourage bank mergers. As a tax expert, Robert Willens, put it: "It couldn't be clearer if they had taken out an ad."Note: Was the real purpose of the "bailout" to strengthen the biggest banks by enabling them to gobble up the smaller ones at the public's expense? No wonder the legislation was rushed through without discussion! For lots more highly revealing reports on the Wall Street bailout, click here.

Government Rescue Spending: Clear or Cloudy? 2008-11-11, ABC News After weeks of sometimes frenzied efforts by the federal government to rescue the financial system ... critics say there are many questions but few answers about the work performed by the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve. "The bailout, the Treasury, the Federal Reserve -- it's like a three-card monte game, you don't know where the money's coming from, you don't know who it's going to, and I think the public has every right to be outraged by this," said Bill Allison, a senior fellow at the Sunlight Foundation, a government transparency watchdog group. Gerald O'Driscoll, a former vice president at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas ... said he worried that the failure of the government to provide more information about its rescue spending could signal corruption. "Nontransparency in government programs is always associated with corruption in other countries, so I don't see why it wouldn't be here," he said. Questions about transparency at the Federal Reserve, in particular, have prompted a lawsuit: Bloomberg L.P., which operates the news agency Bloomberg News, is suing the Fed for the release of information on its lending to private financial institutions. "We really don't know anything," Matthew Winkler, the editor-in-chief of Bloomberg News, told "All we know is something close to 2 trillion is being used and that money is the taxpayers'. ... We don't know whom it's being lent to and for what purpose because we can't see it because it isn't disclosed."Note: For many revealing and reliable reports on the Wall Street bailout, click here.

White House defends money for banks 2008-10-30, Washington Post Under fire from Democrats and Republicans alike, the White House ... defended giving billions of bailout dollars to banks that plan to reward shareholders and executives -- or even buy other banks. Allowing banks to engage in such normal business activities actually could help loosen lending and revive the sagging economy, said Ed Lazear, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers. He said the administration would not impose any conditions on banks beyond those required when Congress created the bailout program, which authorized the government to buy stock in financial institutions. Lazear was put before the cameras in the White House briefing room amid a rising chorus of complaints from lawmakers about the latitude that banks will have when they receive bailout money from Washington. That bailout was originally sold by the administration as a plan for the government to purchase toxic mortgage-based assets from financial institutions, to get them off their books and inspire the resumption of normal lending. After passage, though, the administration decided the better course would be to devote $250 billion into buying ownership stakes in banks. With taxpayers' money flowing into their vaults, banks are going ahead with paying dividends to shareholders, giving bonuses to top executives and acquiring competitors. Lawmakers are asking why banks with the money to do those things need taxpayer-funded help. The rescue legislation included some limits on executive compensation, considered weak by many. And while it does not allow institutions receiving the money to increase dividends, it does not prevent them from paying those dividends.Note: For extensive coverage of continuing revelations about the Wall Street bailout, click here.

Bernanke Is Fighting the Last War 2008-10-18, Wall Street Journal "Nothing," [famed economist] Anna Schwartz says, "seems to have quieted the fears of either the investors in the securities markets or the lenders and would-be borrowers in the credit market." The credit markets remain frozen, the stock market continues to get hammered, and deep recession now seems a certainty -- if not a reality already. [Recently, according to Schwarz, Secretary of the Treasury Hank Paulson has] shifted from trying to save the banking system to trying to save banks. These are not, Ms. Schwartz argues, the same thing. In fact, by keeping otherwise insolvent banks afloat, the Federal Reserve and the Treasury have actually prolonged the crisis. "They should not be recapitalizing firms that should be shut down." Rather, "firms that made wrong decisions should fail," she says bluntly. "You shouldn't rescue them. Everything works much better when wrong decisions are punished and good decisions make you rich." How did we get into this mess in the first place? As in the 1920s, the current "disturbance" started with a "mania." But manias always have a cause. "In every case, it was expansive monetary policy that generated the boom in an asset. The particular asset varied from one boom to another. But the basic underlying propagator was too-easy monetary policy and too-low interest ratest. And then of course if monetary policy tightens, the boom collapses." Today's crisis isn't a replay of the problem in the 1930s, but our central bankers have responded by using the tools they should have used then. They are fighting the last war. The result, she argues, has been failure.Note: Anna Schwarz and Nobel-winner Milton Friedman authored A Monetary History of the United States. It's the definitive account of how misguided monetary policy turned the stock-market crash of 1929 into the Great Depression. The excellent article above mentions that Fed Reserve Chairman Bernanke once said "I would like to say to Milton and Anna: Regarding the Great Depression. You're right, we did it. We're very sorry. We won't do it again." Top bankers and their cronies have been aware of what causes the boom/bust cycle for over 100 years and taken full advantage of it. Try to find one top banker who lost significant money in any bust cycle.

A.I.G. Secures $150 Billion Assistance Package 2008-11-11, New York Times The American International Group said on Monday that it ... had secured a new $150 billion government assistance package intended to stem the bleeding from its complex financial contracts. A central component of the new package will be to get the most tainted assets out of the company, in an effort to stop the collateral calls that have been rapidly draining A.I.G.'s cash. A.I.G.'s trading partners in these financial contracts will largely be made whole in the process. [An] important feature will be government investments of about $50 billion to create special-purpose entities to relieve the company of its most tainted assets. About $30 billion of the government money will be used to buy complex debt securities that were insured by A.I.G. and about $20 billion more will be used to buy securities backed by home loans. A.I.G.'s counterparties - financial institutions in the United States and Europe - have not borne significant losses on the financial contracts that led A.I.G. to the brink, and the new program suggests they will not. "We're funding somebody on the other side" of A.I.G.'s derivatives contracts, said Lynn E. Turner, a former chief accountant with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Neither A.I.G. nor the federal government has been willing to provide the names of the company's biggest counterparties, or their amount of exposure. "We've had way too many things here that nobody knows anything about," said Mr. Turner, who is on the Treasury's Advisory Committee on the Auditing Profession. "That's why no one has faith in the capital markets."Note: The culture of secrecy around this bailout using nearly $1 trillion of taxpayer money is appalling. For many revealing and reliable reports on the Wall Street bailout, click here.

Fed Defies Transparency Aim in Refusal to Disclose 2008-11-10, Bloomberg News The Federal Reserve is refusing to identify the recipients of almost $2 trillion of emergency loans from American taxpayers or the troubled assets the central bank is accepting as collateral. Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said in September they would comply with congressional demands for transparency in a $700 billion bailout of the banking system. Two months later, as the Fed lends far more than that in separate rescue programs that didn't require approval by Congress, Americans have no idea where their money is going or what securities the banks are pledging in return. Bloomberg News has requested details of the Fed lending under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act and filed a federal lawsuit Nov. 7 seeking to force disclosure. The Fed made the loans under terms of 11 programs, eight of them created in the past 15 months. The Fed's lending is significant because the central bank has stepped into a rescue role that was also the purpose of the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, bailout plan -- without safeguards put into the TARP legislation by Congress. Total Fed lending topped $2 trillion for the first time last week and has risen by 140 percent, or $1.172 trillion, in the seven weeks since Fed governors relaxed the collateral standards on Sept. 14. The nation's biggest banks, Citigroup, Bank of America Corp., JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo & Co., Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley, declined to comment on whether they have borrowed money from the Fed. They received $120 billion in capital from the TARP, which was signed into law Oct. 3.Note: For many revealing and reliable reports on the Wall Street bailout, click here.

Was There a Loan It Didn't Like? 2008-11-02, New York Times As a senior mortgage underwriter, Keysha Cooper was proud of her ability to spot fraud and other problems in a loan application. But as a senior mortgage underwriter at Washington Mutual during the late, great mortgage boom, Ms. Cooper says she found herself in a vise. Brokers squeezed her from one side, her superiors from the other, she says, and both pressured her to approve loans, no matter what. "At WaMu it wasn't about the quality of the loans; it was about the numbers," Ms. Cooper says. "They didn't care if we were giving loans to people that didn't qualify. Instead, it was how many loans did you guys close and fund?" When underwriters refused to approve dubious loans, they were punished, she says. In February 2007 ... the pressure became intense. WaMu executives told employees they were not making enough loans and had to get their numbers up, she says. "They started giving loan officers free trips if they closed so many loans, fly them to Hawaii for a month," Ms. Cooper recalls. "One of my account reps went to Jamaica for a month because he closed $3.5 million in loans that month. If a loan came from a top loan officer, they didn't care what the situation was, you had to make that loan work," she says. One loan file was filled with so many discrepancies that she felt certain it involved mortgage fraud. She turned the loan down, she says, only to be scolded by her supervisor. Ms. Cooper says that her bosses placed her on probation for 30 days for refusing to approve the loan and that her team manager signed off on the loan.Note: For lots more on corporate corruption from reliable sources, click here.

Panel grills credit raters over inflated ratings 2008-10-23, MSNBC/Associated Press Executives and employees at the major credit ratings agencies were often aware of problems in the AAA grades awarded to thousands of mortgage-related securities whose downgrades helped plunge the nation into a financial meltdown. The companies - Standard & Poor, Moody's and Fitch, Inc. - made enormous profits as they evaluated a ballooning number of mortgage-backed bonds, many of which were given top marks as long as housing prices went up. "The story of the credit rating agencies is a story of colossal failure," said Rep. Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. The California Democrat said, "Millions of investors rely on them for independent, objective assessments. The rating agencies broke this bond of trust, and federal regulators ignored the warning signs and did nothing to protect the public. The result is that our entire financial system is now at risk." The companies are important because their high assessments assured investors that their money should be safe. The inflated ratings awarded to securities backed up by subprime loans led investors to buy them in enormous numbers. But now, most of these securities have been downgraded and the market for them has largely evaporated, contributing to the current crisis. The panel also heard former ratings agency executives say there's an inherent conflict of interest in the industry because they're paid by bond issuers instead of investors who trust their ratings to make smart investments.Note: For many reports on corporate corruption from reliable sources, click here.

This Bailout Doesn't Pay Dividends 2008-10-21, New York Times Paulson [has been] described as playing the role of the Godfather, making the banks [a bailout] offer they could not refuse. But in one important respect, he was more Santa Claus than Vito Corleone: the agreement allowed the banks to continue paying dividends to common shareholders. These dividends, if they are paid at current levels, will redirect more than $25 billion of the $125 billion to shareholders in the next year alone. A significant fraction of [the bailout] money will wind up in shareholders' pockets - and thus be unavailable to plug the large capital hole on the banks' balance sheets. The officers and directors of the nine banks will be among the leading beneficiaries of the dividend payout. Their personal take of the dividends will amount to approximately $250 million in the first year. Why would the banks want to maintain large dividend payouts when they've had such a hard time borrowing, are starved of cash, and the credit markets believe that they run a significant risk of defaulting? Shouldn't these distressed banks be marshalling all of the financial resources available to them to ensure their viability? Here's why: Each dollar paid out as a dividend today is a dollar that cannot be seized by creditors in the event of bankruptcy. For a distressed company, dividends are not in the interest of the enterprise as a whole (shareholders and lenders taken together), but only in the interest of shareholders. They are an attempt by shareholders to beat creditors out the door. The government should close the door by putting an immediate stop to the dividend payouts of any banks receiving direct federal support.Note: Is the fox guarding the hen house? For many revealing, reliable reports on the banking bailout, click here.

Wall Street's 'Disaster Capitalism for Dummies' 2008-10-21, (owned by Dow Jones) Sorry to pop your bubble folks, but it no longer matters who's president. Why? The real "game changer" already happened. Democracy has been replaced by Wall Street's new "disaster capitalism." That's the big game-changer historians will remember about 2008, masterminded by Wall Street's ultimate "Trojan Horse," Hank Paulson. Congress simply handed over voting power and the keys to trillions in the Treasury to Wall Street's new "Disaster Capitalists" who now control "democracy." We let it happen. In one generation America has been transformed from a democracy into a strange new form of government, "Disaster Capitalism." Three decades of influence peddling in Washington ... accelerated under Reaganomics and went into hyperspeed under Bushonomics, both totally committed to a new disaster capitalism run privately by Wall Street and Corporate America. No-bid contracts in wars and hurricanes. A housing-credit bubble -- while secretly planning for a meltdown. Finally, the coup de grace: Along came the housing-credit crisis, as planned. Press and public saw a negative, a crisis. Disaster capitalists saw a huge opportunity. Yes, opportunity for big bucks and control of America. This end game was planned for years in secret war rooms on Wall Street, in Corporate America, in Washington and the Forbes 400. Naomi Klein summarizes the game in Shock Doctrine: the Rise of Disaster Capitalism. This "new economy" generates enormous profits feeding off other peoples' misery: Wars, terror attacks, natural catastrophes, poverty, trade sanctions, subprime housing meltdowns and all kinds of economic, financial and political disasters. Note: The author of this highly critical commentary, Paul B. Farrell, is a well-known writer on finance and investment and a long-time columnist at The Wall Street Journal's sister-site MarketWatch.

Stimulus Plan a Scam to Benefit the Rich 2008-02-03, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper) Congress is about to sell us the biggest fraud in American history. It's been highly touted as an economic stimulus bill that will help millions of Americans. As part of the bill, Congress is set to rush through an increase in the mortgage loan limits for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (and Federal Housing Administration insurance, too) - from $417,000 to $729,750 - the first step toward a massive financial disaster in which taxpayers will end up paying through the nose. Now, thanks to Congress, junk bond investors will be able to pawn off their bad debt to Fannie and Freddie. This shift will certainly doom Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, so don't be surprised if we, the taxpayers, have to bail out poor Fannie and Freddie - to the tune of more than $1 trillion. The irony here is that the collapse in housing prices could make Fannie insolvent even without raising the loan limit. Increasing Fannie's limit is like going on a spending spree with your credit cards because you know you are going to file for bankruptcy in a few months. Only here the taxpayer is left holding the bag. Our children will pay interest on this debt in perpetuity. It is our debt. It is inescapable. In the coming months, Fannie and Freddie will buy up mortgages based on old, fraudulent appraisals and on loans with bogus inflated incomes. Unfortunately, many of these loans will still default. Expansion of Fannie and Freddie's reckless lending is exactly what Congress wants because it's plausibly deniable. Teary-eyed lawmakers can take to the airwaves a year from now and declare: "We had no idea Fannie could go under, but we can't cut and run now. Those same lawmakers won't mention the fact that they get paid far more by real estate lobbyists than they do from our Treasury.Note: The author wrote this article seven months before the collapse of Fannie Mae and eight months before the huge banking bailout. For more news articles suggestion major manipulations to transfer public tax monies to the banking sector, click here.

Banks Owe Billions to Executives 2008-10-31, The Wall Street Journal/ Financial giants getting injections of federal cash owed their executives more than $40 billion for past years' pay and pensions as of the end of 2007, a Wall Street Journal analysis shows. The government is seeking to rein in executive pay at banks getting federal money. But overlooked in these efforts is the total size of debts that financial firms receiving taxpayer assistance previously incurred to their executives, which at some firms exceed what they owe in pensions to their entire work forces. The sums are mostly for special executive pensions and deferred compensation, including bonuses, for prior years. Some examples: $11.8 billion at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., $8.5 billion at J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., and $10 billion to $12 billion at Morgan Stanley. Few firms report the size of these debts to their executives. In most cases, the Journal calculated them by extrapolating from figures that the firms do have to disclose. Most firms haven't set aside cash or stock for these IOUs. They are a drag on current earnings and when the executives depart, employers have to pay them out of corporate coffers. [Such] liabilities grew especially high in the financial industry, with its tradition of lavish pay. The liabilities are an essentially hidden obligation. Even when the debts to their executives total in the billions, most companies lump them into "other liabilities"; only a few then identify amounts attributable to deferred pay.Note: For extensive coverage of continuing revelations about the Wall Street bailout, click here.

No curbs on Wall Street pay despite meltdown 2008-10-24, San Francisco Chronicle/Associated Press Despite the Wall Street meltdown, the nation's biggest banks are preparing to pay their workers as much as last year or more, including bonuses tied to personal and company performance. So far this year, nine of the largest U.S. banks, including some that have cut thousands of jobs, have seen total costs for salaries, benefits and bonuses grow by an average of 3 percent from a year ago, according to an Associated Press review. "Taxpayers have lost their life savings, and now they are being asked to bail out corporations," New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said of the AP findings. "It's adding insult to injury to continue to pay outsized bonuses and exorbitant compensation." That there is a rise in pay, or at least not a pronounced dropoff, from 2007 is surprising because many of the same companies were doing some of their best business ever, at least in the first half of last year. In 2008, each quarter has been weaker than the last. "There are, of course, expectations that the payouts should be going down," David Schmidt, a senior compensation consultant at James F. Reda & Associates. "But we haven't seen that show up yet." Some banks are setting aside large amounts. At Citigroup, which has cut 23,000 jobs this year amid the crisis, pay expenses for the first nine months of this year came to $25.9 billion, 4 percent more than the same period last year. Typically, about 60 percent of Wall Street pay goes to salary and benefits, while about 40 percent goes to end-of-the-year cash and stock bonuses that hinge on performance, both for the individual and the company.Note: For lots more on the Wall Street bailout, click here.

U.S. Is Said to Be Urging New Mergers in Banking 2008-10-21, New York Times In a step that could accelerate a shakeout of the nation's banks, the Treasury Department hopes to spur a new round of mergers by steering some of the money in its $250 billion rescue package to banks that are willing to buy weaker rivals, according to government officials. As the Treasury embarks on its unprecedented recapitalization, it is becoming clear that the government wants not only to stabilize the industry, but also to reshape it. Two senior officials said the selection criteria would include banks that need more capital to finance acquisitions. "Treasury doesn't want to prop up weak banks," said an official who spoke on condition of anonymity, because of the sensitivity of the matter. "One purpose of this plan is to drive consolidation." With bankers traumatized by the credit crisis and the loss of investor confidence, officials said, there are plenty of banks open to selling themselves. The hurdle is a lack of well-capitalized buyers. Stable national players like Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo are already digesting acquisitions. A second group of so-called super-regional banks are well positioned to take over their competitors, officials said, but have been reluctant to undertake or unable to complete deals. By offering capital at a favorable rate, the government may encourage them to expand. Note: So the U.S. government is using billions of taxpayer dollars to support megamergers which create less competition and more monopolistic conditions. Hmmmm. Is that what the taxpayers really want? For lots more highly revealing reports on the Wall Street bailout, click here.

Banks Are Likely to Hold Tight to Bailout Money 2008-10-17, New York Times All of the combined profits that major banks earned in recent years have vanished. Since mid-2007, when the credit crisis erupted, the country's nine largest banks have written down the value of their troubled assets by a combined $323 billion. The problems that began with home mortgages, analysts say, are migrating to auto, credit card and commercial real estate loans. The deepening red ink underscores a crucial question about the government's plan: Will lenders deploy their new-found capital quickly, as the Treasury hopes, and unlock the flow of credit through the economy? Or will they hoard the money to protect themselves? John A. Thain, the chief executive of Merrill Lynch, said on Thursday that banks were unlikely to act swiftly. "We will have the opportunity to redeploy that," Mr. Thain said of the new capital. "But at least for the next quarter, it's just going to be a cushion." For every dollar the banks earned during the industry's most prosperous years, they have now wiped out $1.06. [Treasury Secretary Henry M.] Paulson unveiled plans to provide $125 billion to nine banks on terms that were more favorable than they would have received in the marketplace. The government, however, has offered no written requirements about how or when the banks must use the money. "There is no express statutory requirement that says you must make this amount of loans," said John C. Dugan, the comptroller of the currency. The banks could use the money from the government for any number of things. Some analysts say the banks may use it to acquire weaker competitors. Others say they might use it to avoid painful cost-cutting. And still others say the banks may sit on the capital.Note: With no requirements placed on how the bailout money is to be used, what is to stop the banks from using taxpayers's money to inflate the bonuses to top executives, or to increase political campaign contributions to Congress members in return for future favorable legislation?

Outrage Leads AIG To Cancel Second Luxury Retreat 2008-10-09, ABC News Battered by outrage over the $440,000 it spent on a luxury retreat less than a week after the federal government loaned it $85 billion dollars, the giant AIG Insurance Company says it has called off plans to hold a second retreat next week at the exclusive Ritz-Carlton Resort in Half Moon Bay, California. The Ritz-Carlton outing, like the earlier one, was to reward top independent insurance agents, which the company called a "standard industry practice." "I am somewhat relieved to hear that AIG has canceled their Ritz-Carlton conference, which was nothing less than a slap in the face of the American people," said Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD). "I cannot fathom how in the same day -- the very same day -- that AIG asked the government for another $37.8 billion loan, the company would even consider moving forward with plans to host another large conference at another luxury resort." Critics ... have denounced AIG for holding an expensive retreat at a time of economic crisis. The criticism has been "demoralizing" within AIG said Nicholas Ashooh, a spokesperson for AIG, "but we have to recognize that we're in a different environment and we have to adjust to that." AIG says it has instructed its worldwide managers to re-scrutinize how money is being spent. "We're certainly reviewing all our expenditures in light of financial circumstances and the fact that taxpayer dollars are helping to support AIG as we get through this difficult credit crisis," said Ashooh.Note: For many reports of corporate corruption from reliable sources, click here.

After Bailout, AIG Execs Head to California Resort 2008-10-07, ABC News Less than a week after the federal government committed $85 billion to bail out AIG, executives of the giant AIG insurance company headed for a week-long retreat at a luxury resort and spa, the St. Regis Resort in Monarch Beach, California, Congressional investigators revealed today. "Rooms at this resort can cost over $1,000 a night," Congressman Henry Waxman (D-CA) said. AIG documents obtained by Waxman's investigators show the company paid more than $440,000 for the retreat, including nearly $200,000 for rooms, $150,000 for meals and $23,000 in spa charges. "They're getting their pedicures and their manicures and the American people are paying for that," said Cong. Elijah Cummings (D-MD). Appearing before the committee, Martin Sullivan, the AIG CEO until June, said the company was overwhelmed by a "financial global tsunami," and that "no simple or single cause" was to blame. "I am heartbroken at what has happened," Sullivan said. Robert Willumstad, the CEO from June to September, 2008, maintained AIG was a victim of a "crisis in confidence" and an "unprecedented global catastrophe." But Congressional investigators raised questions of "mismanagement" and whether AIG executives sought to "cook the books" and hide negative information from outside auditors. Waxman also said there is evidence the two men changed the bonus schedule once the company began to post losses, so that executives under the "Senior Partners Plan" would continue to make multi-million dollar salaries. Sullivan was given a $15 million "golden parachute" payment after being replaced as CEO in June.Note: For lots more on corporate corruption from reliable sources, click here.

Lobbyists Swarm the Treasury for Piece of Bailout Pie 2008-11-12, New York Times When the government said it would spend $700 billion to rescue the nation's financial industry, it seemed to be an ocean of money. But after one of the biggest lobbying free-for-alls in memory, it suddenly looks like a dwindling pool. Many new supplicants are lining up for an infusion of capital as billions of dollars are channeled to other beneficiaries like the American International Group, and possibly soon American Express. Of the initial $350 billion that Congress freed up, out of the $700 billion in bailout money contained in the law that passed last month, the Treasury Department has committed all but $60 billion. The shrinking pie - and the growing uncertainty over who qualifies - has thrown Washington's legal and lobbying establishment into a mad scramble. The Treasury Department is under siege by an army of hired guns for banks, savings and loan associations and insurers - as well as for [other more] improbable candidates. The lobbying frenzy worries many traditional bankers - the original targets of the rescue program - who fear that it could blur, or even undermine, the government's effort to stabilize the financial system after its worst crisis since the 1930s. Adding to the frenzy is the possibility that the next Congress and White House could change the rules further. President-elect Barack Obama has added his voice by proposing that the struggling automakers get federal aid, which could mean giving them access to the fund. Meanwhile, the list of candidates for a piece of the bailout keeps growing. American Express won approval Monday to transform itself into a bank holding company, making the giant marketer of credit cards eligible for an infusion.Note: American Express is a credit-card company; if it failed due to losses on its risky, predatory lending, its failure would present no "systemic risk" to the financial system as a whole. But by turning itself into a "bank holding company," as it just won approval to do, it can scoop up billions of easy money from the government anyway! For many revealing and reliable reports on the Wall Street bailout, click here.

Effectiveness of AIG's $143 Billion Rescue Questioned 2008-11-03, Washington Post A number of financial experts now fear that the federal government's $143 billion attempt to rescue troubled insurance giant American International Group may not work, and some argue that company shareholders and taxpayers would have been better served by a bankruptcy filing. The Treasury Department leapt to keep AIG from going bankrupt on Sept. 16, and in the past seven weeks, AIG has drawn down $90 billion in federal bailout loans. But some key AIG players argue that bankruptcy would have offered more structure and greater protections during a time of intense market volatility. Echoing some other experts, Ann Rutledge, a credit derivatives expert, ... said she ... fears that the government is papering over the problem with a quick fix that was not well planned. "What we see now are a lot of games by the government to keep these institutions going with a lot of cash," she said. "This is to fill holes in companies' balance sheets, and they're trying to hold at bay the charges that our financial system is insolvent." As AIG has rapidly eaten through the loan money, the Fed has twice expanded its original $85 billion bailout -- which itself was the largest government bailout of a private company in U.S. history. Earlier last month, the Fed ... gave AIG $38 billion more in credit for securities lending to try to keep the firm from drawing down its first Fed loan too quickly. Then on Thursday, the Fed agreed to let AIG borrow $20 billion from a larger commercial paper bailout fund it had set up days earlier for all institutions that lend money to each other. If the company had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, AIG could have frozen the crippling collateral calls.Note: For extensive coverage of continuing revelations about the Wall Street bailout, click here.

F.B.I. Struggles to Handle Financial Fraud Cases 2008-10-19, New York Times The Federal Bureau of Investigation is struggling to find enough agents and resources to investigate criminal wrongdoing tied to the country's economic crisis, according to current and former bureau officials. The bureau slashed its criminal investigative work force to expand its national security role after the Sept. 11 attacks, shifting more than 1,800 agents, or nearly one-third of all agents in criminal programs, to terrorism and intelligence duties. The cutbacks have left the bureau seriously exposed in investigating areas like white-collar crime, which has taken on urgent importance in recent weeks because of the nation's economic woes. So depleted are the ranks of the F.B.I.'s white-collar investigators that executives in the private sector say they have had difficulty attracting the bureau's attention in cases involving possible frauds of millions of dollars. Since 2004, F.B.I. officials have warned that mortgage fraud posed a looming threat, and the bureau has repeatedly asked the Bush administration for more money to replenish the ranks of agents handling nonterrorism investigations. But each year, the requests have been denied, with no new agents approved for financial crimes, as policy makers focused on counterterrorism. According to previously undisclosed internal F.B.I. data, the cutbacks have been particularly severe in staffing for investigations into white-collar crimes like mortgage fraud, with a loss of 625 agents, or 36 percent of its 2001 levels.Note: How fortunate for the financial fraudsters that the FBI doesn't have the resources to investigate them! Was it just a coincidence that first the "war on terror" and then the Wall Street bailout both have resulted in trillions of dollars going to a few well-positioned corporations? For more on government corruption from reliable sources, click here.

Bailout tests how much the American public will tolerate theft 2008-09-23, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper) Treasury Secretary Paulson's edict to create a $700 billion fund to buy worthless mortgage securities from agitated wealthy bond investors is nothing short of a final step on the path to the end of the republic. The secretary claims he can only be effective if his decisions are beyond judicial review. Our government and its owners appear to be testing how much the American public will tolerate. A few years ago, no one could have imagined that the silent majority would quietly accept thefts of this magnitude from a government that stopped tiny payments to single mothers with poor children in the name of welfare reform because the program's $10 billion cost was breaking the federal budget. If the public allows this theft, then it will signal to powerful forces that they can essentially do anything, because the American public has become so mushy-headed that it will stand up for nothing. When power discovers that those from whom it would exact payment are powerless, its viciousness increases infinitely. Our enemy has revealed itself, and it is our own government. Because the American public has not been introduced to methods for controlling its government for generations, I will suggest one called a general strike. This fundamental democratic power is where everyone decides to send a message to the government by not going to work, to school, shopping, nowhere. This is the critical time when charlatans among us will promise they can save us from the inevitable if we only allow them the power they need to save us. They are lying. Note: This article's author Sean Olender is an attorney in San Mateo, California. Mr. Oleander predicted the bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac months before it happened based on clearly disempowering moves by the government. To see his prescient article on this from Feb. 2008, click here.

Almost Armageddon: Markets were 500 Trades from a Meltdown 2008-09-21, New York Post The market was 500 trades away from Armageddon on Thursday [September 18], traders inside two large custodial banks tell The Post. Had the Treasury and Fed not quickly stepped into the fray that morning with a quick $105 billion injection of liquidity, the Dow could have collapsed. According to traders, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, money market funds were inundated with $500 billion in sell orders prior to the opening. The Fed's dramatic $105 billion liquidity injection on Thursday (pre-market) was just enough to keep key institutional accounts from following through on the sell orders and starting a stampede of cash that could have brought large tracts of the US economy to a halt. Cracks started to show in money market accounts late Tuesday when shares in one fund, the Reserve Primary Fund - which touted itself as super safe - fell below the golden $1 a share level. By Wednesday, banks sensed a run on their accounts. They started stockpiling cash in anticipation of withdrawals. Banks, which usually keep an average of $2 billion in excess reserves earmarked for withdrawals, pumped that up to an astounding $90 billion, Lou Crandall, chief economist at Wrighton ICAP, told The [Wall Street] Journal. And for good reason. By the close of business on Wednesday, $144.5 billion - a record - had been withdrawn. How much money was taken out of money market funds the prior week? Roughly $7.1 billion, according to AMG Data Services. By Thursday, that level ... had grown to $100 billion.Note: For insight into the banking and financial powers that runs today's governments, click here.

Bailout Expands to Insurers 2008-10-25, Washington Post The Treasury Department is dramatically expanding the scope of its bailout of the financial system with a plan to take ownership stakes in the nation's insurance companies, signaling new concerns about a sector of the economy whose troubles until now have been overshadowed by the banking industry, government and industry sources said. Insurers, including The Hartford, Prudential and MetLife, have pushed the Bush administration to include them in the plan. Many firms have taken losses from mortgage-related securities and other investments and are struggling to replenish their coffers. The new initiative underscores the growing range of problems that Treasury is scrambling to address with the $700 billion allocated by Congress this month. The shape of the plan has changed repeatedly since Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. introduced it last month as an effort to rescue banks by buying their troubled mortgage-related assets. That original mandate has now been pushed aside by a plan to take equity stakes in banks and insurance companies, and other businesses are lobbying to be included. The government has been forced to expand the plan partly because the federal guarantees previously given some institutions, such as banks, have put other companies and financial sectors at a disadvantage, making them less attractive to uneasy investors. The cost of saving the country's largest insurer continues to rise. Senior managers at troubled insurance giant American International Group warned the Federal Reserve yesterday that the company would probably need more taxpayer money than the $123 billion in rescue loans the government has provided.Note: For lots more highly revealing reports on the Wall Street bailout, click here.

Treasury could bail out any industry 2008-10-30, San Francisco Chronicle/Associated Press As the list of ailing companies seeking government help grows, it is anybody's guess where the Treasury Department's largesse will stop. The $700 billion bailout bill is so vague that virtually any U.S. company could be eligible for government help. While the capital infusions announced this month will be directed only to banks, Treasury spokeswoman Brookly McLaughlin confirmed that the law allows the department to create other rescue programs "open to a broader set of financial institutions." As the bill is written, "financial institutions" don't have to be banks or financial entities. In theory, any company could declare itself a financial institution and ask the Treasury Department to grant it temporary aid if its rescue is deemed "necessary to promote financial market stability." "Talk about the barn doors being left open - it's like they left off the walls and roof, too," said Bert Ely, an independent banking consultant. He suggested that under the bill, an airline could transfer future revenue streams into a subsidiary and ask the government to buy shares in that new "financial institution." Representatives of the auto, insurance and other industries are already seeking government help, indicating they think they qualify because of their financing units. Airlines and home builders are lobbying for government help to prop them up through the economic downturn - either under the bailout bill or some other legislation. And if insurance and auto lobbyists succeed in their efforts to tap the bailout money, experts said other industries will probably follow.Note: For extensive coverage of continuing revelations about the Wall Street bailout, click here.

Waxman Seeks Bank Data On Use of Bailout Funds 2008-10-29, Washington Post Congressional investigators yesterday demanded that the nation's nine largest banks prove they are not using an emergency infusion of $125 billion in taxpayer funds to lavish their executives with wealthy bonuses. "I question the appropriateness of depleting the capital that taxpayers just injected into the banks through the payment of billions of dollars in bonuses, especially after one of the financial industry's worst years on record," [Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform,] wrote in a letter to the banks. Lawmakers across the political spectrum want to ensure that the government's bailout program results in increased lending, not bigger paydays for executives. But a new study suggests that financiers are still bullish about their bonuses. More than two-thirds of Wall Street professionals are expecting a bonus this year, and 36 percent are anticipating a larger bonus than last year, according to a survey by eFinancialCareers, a career networking company. "Some experts have suggested that a significant percentage of this compensation could come in year-end bonuses and that the size of the bonuses will be significantly enhanced as a result of the infusion of taxpayer funds," Waxman said. In his letter to the banks, Waxman asked them to provide detailed data on compensation packages since 2006, as well as the projected salaries and bonuses for the rest of the year. The request was sent to Bank of America, Bank of New York Mellon, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan Chase, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, State Street, and Wells Fargo.Note: For extensive coverage of continuing revelations about the Wall Street bailout, click here.

Keating 5 ring a bell? 2008-09-25, Los Angeles Times

Once upon a time, a politician took campaign contributions and favors from a friendly constituent who happened to run a savings and loan association. The contributions were generous: They came to about $200,000 in today's dollars, and on top of that there were several free vacations for the politician and his family, along with private jet trips and other perks. The politician voted repeatedly against congressional efforts to tighten regulation of S&Ls, and in 1987, when he learned that his constituent's S&L was the target of a federal investigation, he met with regulators in an effort to get them to back off. That politician was John McCain, and his generous friend was Charles Keating, head of Lincoln Savings & Loan. While he was courting McCain and other senators and urging them to oppose tougher regulation of S&Ls, Keating was also investing his depositors' federally insured savings in risky ventures. In 1989, [Lincoln] went belly up -- and more than 20,000 Lincoln customers saw their savings vanish. Keating went to prison, and McCain's Senate career almost ended. Together with the rest of the so-called Keating Five ... McCain was investigated by the Senate Ethics Committee and ultimately reprimanded for "poor judgment." But the savings and loan crisis mushroomed. Eventually, the government spent about $125 billion in taxpayer dollars to bail out hundreds of failed S&Ls. The $125 billion seems like small change compared to the $700-billion price tag for the Bush administration's proposed Wall Street bailout. But the root causes of both crises are the same: a lethal mix of deregulation and greed.

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Before resigning from the US State Department in 2004 due to excessive secrecy demands, Fred Burks served for many years as a language interpreter for presidents and other dignitaries. He interpreted for Bush, Clinton, Gore, Cheney, and many other (more...)

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