This is a brief update to my previous posts about the government’s TARP program.
- Slowly more voices are raised about the pending theft of taxpayer money, 21 September 2008
- The Paulson Plan will buy assets cheap, just as all good cons offer easy money to the marks, 30 September 2008
Now we have the Citgroup bailout. The secret is out, so the mainstream media and blogs cover the story adequately.
Update: an excellent table which every US citizen should study: “Tracking the Bailout“, New York Times, 26 November 2008.
- Committments: $7.8T
- Used so far: $1.4T (most of which are investments or loans, not expenditures or losses)
The following all appear on Mark Thoma’s article at Economist’s View. Yes, now is an excellent time to get angry.
“U.S. Approves Plan to Help Citigroup Cope With Losses“, 23 November 2008 — Opening:
Federal regulators approved a radical plan to stabilize Citigroup in an arrangement in which the government could soak up billions of dollars in losses at the struggling bank, the government announced late Sunday night.
“Citigroup“, Paul Krugman, op-ed at the New York Times, 24 November 2008 — Excerpt:
A bailout was necessary – but this bailout is an outrage: a lousy deal for the taxpayers, no accountability for management, and just to make things perfect, quite possibly inadequate, so that Citi will be back for more.
Amazing how much damage the lame ducks can do in the time remaining.
“Citigroup Bailout: Weak, Arbitrary, Incomprehensible“, James Kwak, posted at The Baseline Scenario, 24 November 2008 — Excerpt:
The arithmetic on this deal doesn’t seem to work for me (feel free to help me out). Citi has over $2 trillion in assets and several hundred billions of dollars in off-balance sheet liabilities. $20 billion is a drop in the bucket. Friedman Billings Ramsey last week estimated that Citi needed $160 billion in new capital. (I’m not sure I agree with the exact number, but that’s the ballpark.) Yes, there is a guarantee on $306 billion in assets (which will not get triggered until that $20 billion is wiped out), but that leaves another $2 trillion in other assets, many of which are not looking particularly healthy. If I’m an investor, I’m thinking that Citi is going to have to come back again for more money.
In addition, the plan is arbitrary and cannot possibly set an expectation for future deals. In particular, by saying that the government will back some of Citi’s assets but not others, it doesn’t even establish a principle that can be followed in future bailouts. In effect, the message to the market was and has been: “We will protect some (unnamed) large banks from failing, but we won’t tell you how and we’ll decide at the last minute.)” As long as that’s the message, investors will continue to worry about all U.S. banks.
The third goal should have been getting a good deal for the U.S. taxpayer, but instead Citi got the same generous terms as the original recapitalization…
“Citigroup Scores“, Robert Reich, posted at his blog, 23 November 2008 — Excerpt:
If you had any doubt at all about the primacy of Wall Street over Main Street; the utter lack of transparency behind the biggest government giveaway in history to financial executives, and their shareholders, directors, and creditors; and the intimate connections the lie between Administrations — both Republican and Democratic — and the heavyweights on Wall Street, your doubts should be laid to rest. Today it was decided the government will guarantee more than $300 billion of troubled mortgages and other assets of Citigroup under a federal plan to stabilize the lender after its stock fell 60 percent last week. The company will also will get a $20 billion cash infusion from the Treasury Department, adding to the $25 billion the bank received last month under the Troubled Asset Relief Program.
This is not a particularly good deal for American taxpayers, but it is a marvelous deal for Citi. In return for all the cash and guarantees they are giving away, taxpayers will get only $27 billion of preferred shares paying an 8 percent dividend. No other strings are attached. The senior executives of Citi, including those who have served at the highest levels in the US government, have done their jobs exceedingly well. The American public, including the media, have not the slightest clue what just happened.
Meanwhile, more than a million workers in the automobile industry, along with six million mortgagees, and a millions of Americans who depend on small businesses and retailers for paychecks, are getting nothing at all.
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Situation reports on the financial crisis:
- The US economy at Defcon 2, 11 March 2008 — Where are we in the downcycle? What might the world look like when it ends?
- The most important story in this week’s newspapers, 22 May 2008 — How solvent is the US government?
- Another warning from our leaders, which we will ignore, 4 June 2008 — An extraordinarily clear warning from a senior officer of the Federal Reserve.
- High priority report: a geopolitical sitrep on the financial crisis, 15 September 2008
- A new sitrep, as we move into phase 3 of the financial crisis, 19 September 2008
- A sitrep on the financial crisis: why has the treatment been so slow, so small?, 8 October 2008
- Status report on the financial crisis: we’re at a critical point in time, 10 October 2008