Posts Tagged ‘tarp’

TARP Success?

October 5, 2010

Today, the Treasury Department declared that the government will only lose $29 billion from the TARP program.  This is being hailed as a huge success and that we saved the financial system and the economy, preventing a second Great Depression and barely losing any money.

I have some big problems with these statements.  First of all, most of the big banks that were infused with cash paid back that money within a year of the program starting.  How can a bank go from about to collapse to financially stable so quickly?

Think about Goldman, it received $10 billion from the government.  If they just took that money and invested it for a year in 3% government bonds, that’s $300 million!  Citi and Bank of America got $20 billion each.  That could turn to $600 million of pure profit.

Did the big financial institutions create a sense of panic, in order to get the government to step in and “save” them by taking over all their bad debts?  Did they know that this panic would lead the government create a web of regulations that stifles future competition?  Anytime banks and government come together, I have a feeling the banks are going to win.

Also, where did this money come from anyway?  We created $700 billion out of thin air, gave it to banks to earn interest on, took on their bad loans, and then they gave it back to the Treasury.   Will the government now put that money to rest?  Or will it eventually make it back into the economy.

And finally, $33 billion is still a lot of money.  We have just become desensitized to the number because we saw the $750 billion stimulus package and the $700 billion bailout.  $33 billion just seems like a drop in the bucket.

While the government claims the success of TARP, I find it hard to believe that it saved our economy and that the true cost was really that low.  We’re still mired in a stalled economy and the bad debt is still out there and has not been liquidated.  And with all the success of this bailout, business now knows that future bailouts will be sure to follow, allowing them to take more foolish risks and setting us up for even bigger failure.

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All in the Name of Financial Stability

March 24, 2009

So far, we’ve approved a $750 billion bailout package, a $800 billion stimulus package, and set aside $750 billion for more bailouts.  Also, the Federal Reserve has expanded its balance sheet by over a trillion dollars of printed money, and the FDIC has changed its rules to insure hundreds of billions more than before.

All of this has been done in the name of “Financial Stability,” but the economy has been anything but stable since the Federal Government started getting involved.  They keep talking about the disaster that will happen if they don’t intervene.  Do they not realize we are in the worst recession since the Great Depression?  Their constant meddling and half-baked plans have prolonged the recession and could lead to the demise of our economy.

Now, we have Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner announcing some new plan where the government will form a public/private partnership with investors to buy $1 trillion in bad debts from banks.  Supposedly, for every $100 in bad loans, the government will put in $7, a private investor will put in $7, and the FDIC will provide insurance or loans for the other $86.

The big problem is that we still have not set a price for these securities, and that will be a big factor in how this plays out.  If we they are bought at an inflated price, the government and the taxpayers will definitely be footing the bill.  Geithner has crafted this plan exactly how his Wall Street and hedge fund buddies want – no risk for them and unlimited risk for the taxpayer.

Today, Geithner also plans to ask Congress for new powers, allowing the Treasury to intervene in “troubled” businesses early on, restructure them and sell assets, all in the name of “financial stability.”  Who knows what “troubled” means?  Does it mean their favorite firms?  Does it mean letting their old competitors fail?  Will the books of every company be open to the Fed to review whenever they want?  This is a dangerous power grab by the Executive Branch, and Congress, led by blowhard airheads Pelosi and Reid, is sure to just roll over.

Geithner’s partner in crime, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke is also calling for more regulation to prevent excessive bonuses and to prevent another recession, in the name of “financial stability.”  Why must we always place regulations after the fact?  Just like after the Enron debacle, we created Sarbanes-Oxley, which put an enormous burden on US companies, and made a few big software companies a ton of money.

There are already ways to discourage the kind of behavior that led to the crisis we’re in.  They’re called bankruptcy and fraud.  If we let firms fail, businesses in the future will know they cannot take excessive risks and invest in all sorts of complicated investments.  If we let them fail, then the government can get involved cleaning up the mess, not trying to prop up and save a sinking ship.  The bankruptcy system works!  It allows us to get rid of debt that will not be repaid and cleanses the system of all of these “toxic assets.”

Also, we need to charge all of these executives of big banks, ratings agencies, and hedge funds for fraud.  How did all of these subprime loans end up rated AAA?  How did all of these complex derivatives get sold and rated?  Because all of the players were in bed together.  We hear Obama talk all the time about how greed got us here, and that’s true.  Some of this greed was illegal, and we need to bring those to justice, not punish the taxpayers!

If we keep going about the bailouts the way we are now, we will keep throwing our money away.  We’ve already wasted trillions of dollars in the name of “financial stability” and it has made our economy worse.  We need to let firms fail and bring those who were responsible for this to justice.

If we do this, firms in the future will not make these bad decisions again.  Since we are just letting everyone get away with it, though, we are creating a moral hazard where those that made bad decisions get all the help.

The path we are going down will do anything but lead to “financial stability” and the unintended consequences are going to lead to more power for the executive branch and less freedom and liberty for the American people.

Step One in Screwing the Taxpayers

February 26, 2009

When President Bush was pushing for his massive bank bailout plan, the concept was for the government to take a stake in the failing banks and eventually make money for taxpayers.  I was not in favor of the bailout  because I knew that in the end, the taxpayers would get nothing.

The new scheme for Citi to get more government funding is step one in this process of screwing over the taxpayers.

When the government gave Citi $45 billion of taxpayer dollars in the TARP package, it got warrants for preferred shares.  These could be converted to common stock, which could then be sold by the government, hopefully at a profit.

Now, Citi is in need of more money, and their plan is to have the government to convert their preferred shares of common stock, at or close to the current share price of $2.50.  This will give Citi about $45 billion in cash and the government would become the shareholder of 40% of the company.

When the TARP was enacted, Citi’s share price was just below $20, so in order for the taxpayers to make money, we would have to convert the shares above that price.  By converting them at $2.50, we are taking a 88% loss! 

Serving the best interest of Citi is NOT the protection taxpayers were supposed to receive in the TARP program!

Also, the bigger side effect of the government becoming a 40% shareholder in Citi is that we will not be able to let it fail or nationalize it.  If either of those occur, shareholders (taxpayers) are wiped out.  We will have to keep pumping more money into the failed bank, keeping it on life support.

The bank bailout was a horrible program and idea from the start.  We were sold the fact that the taxpayers would be protected by taking a stake in the failing banks, and then selling the stake for a profit down the road.  This new plan by Citi is a direct contradiction of these protections, and is the first step of screwing over the taxpayers.  This turns the plan into a huge transfer of wealth and a direct giveaway to banks.  We will never see a penny of returns on the $700 billion we “invested” in the failing banking industry.

More Government Equals More Recession

February 22, 2009

The latest headlines have the government taking a larger stake in Citi, upping it’s share to 40%.  This is just going to stretch out the recession we’re in even longer.  If they are going to take a stake in the failing bank, the Feds need to stop taking baby steps and flat out nationalize already.

Of course, letting the banks fail and letting the free markets work is out of the question now.  The reason is that government intervention has eliminated failure as an option.  It’s a tangled mess that all went back to the original TARP plan, that in hindsight, looks like what we needed.

The entire problem with the system right now is that there is too much bad debt and malinvestment.  The original goal of the TARP was to eliminate this debt.  Instead, though, the Feds realized that if they actually determined the market value for these securities, a lot of banks would fail.  They then modified the TARP to give money directly to the banks, so they could offset their bad assets.  This failed because the assets were basically worthless and no amount of money could offset the malinvestment.

So, here we are, with the banks still in the same predicament, and the taxpayers on the hook for $300-$700 billion.  We don’t the exact number because the government lost count somewhere along the way.  Remember, as protection for the taxpayers, we got shares in the banks.  So if they fail or get nationalized, we lose all our money.  Everyone else gets away for free while the taxpayers are left holding the bag.

Everyone talks about how bad the failures of Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, and Washington Mutual were.  Honestly, though, they weren’t that bad compared to the Great Depression II Obama is trying to create.  Shareholders lost everything, the bond holders got 20 cents on the dollar and a lot of people got screwed, but the failure was pretty orderly.  The bankruptcy system and the method of failure works.  Sure, it’s painful, but at least we know what we’re getting and we can move on.

We’re in a situation now where no one wants to let the banks fail, and we will bankrupt the nation and the taxpayers in order to make it work.  We’ve already been screwed over enough, and a couple more months of pain from the failure of a few more banks isn’t going to kill us.  Just get it over with so we can move on.  Don’t keep stringing this charade out.

The more the government gets involved, the bigger the conflict of interest and the bigger the problem gets.  We need the liquidate the bad debt.  Plain and simple.  We need failure and we need the free markets to work.  Why are we going to prop up these banks that made the terrible decisions that got us here?  It’s absolute nonsense.

Obama is Smarter Than This

January 29, 2009

Today, the New York State Comptroller announced that Wall Street doled out over $18 billion in bonuses last year, which was the sixth highest amount in history.

While this is a result of greed and a lack of judgement by the Wall Street companies, I can not believe that President Obama had come out and called their actions “shameful.”

You know what think is shameful?  Obama and the Senate passing the TARP plan without any debate or hard questions.  They just let it breeze through, accusing the House of not looking at the bigger picture when they voted against it.

Now they are all up in arms about it?  What did they expect to happen?  They just assumed that there would be some provision that prevented Wall Street from using taxpayer money for bonuses.  While there might have been a clause in there, did they investigate how it would be enforced?

Did anyone really think that the government would be able to control how Wall Street used the money?  I find it hard to take Obama’s criticism seriously when he posed such little resistance to the TARP to begin with.  You made the bed, now sleep in it.

This is yet another example of why government intervention is such a horrible idea.  Their actions are not well thought out and then they complain when their haphazard ideas blow up in their face.  Issues like this make government look inept and incapable of holding Wall Street accountable.

Rather than going for this TARP money back, the government should be investigating all these big banks, hedge funds, and ratings agencies for fraud.  Only if there are real consequences for their actions, will the Wall Street firms actually respect the demands of regulators and the government.

Source:  Businessweek

More Reasons the Bailout was a Bad Idea

January 27, 2009

As if we didn’t have enough reasons to show us the TARP bailout has been an utter distaster, a few more popped up this morning that aren’t as obvious.

The first is that the headlines all read this morning that Citigroup was buying a $50 million plane with taxpayer money.  It turns out that it really ordered the plane in 2005 and that using it would cut costs for the company.  They also were financing it by selling other planes.  Now, they’ll still have to spend millions of taxpayer dollars cancelling the order.

This is exactly the kind of double standard that is set up by the bailouts.  You can’t spend any money to improve your business because if you do, you are wasting money.  I’m not sure how much efficiency this plane would gain Citi, but $50 million is only .014% of the $350 billion they can’t find.

So now, in the eyes of the public, the reason we can’t find the bailout money is because of wasteful companies buying private jets.  This is the scapegoat the new administration needs so they can place the blame on the companies,  not the failed policies the new Treasury Secretary promoted.

This leads us to another example of the failure of the bailout.  This morning, Tim Geithner, the new Treasury Secretary mentioned above, placed new rules against lobbying for TARP funds.

Wasn’t it just a few months ago that the Treasury basically forced the largest banks in the nation to take the TARP funds?  If they did not want them, why would they lobby for them?  Maybe Geithner’s new rules prevent the banks from lobbying against getting government money.  You will have to take it, no questions asked.

Again, a great example of the new administration showing how they’re cracking down on lobbying and adding transparency (that was said with sarcasm, by the way).  This is just political grandstanding and fooling the public into thinking real “change” is happening.

These lobbying rules will also have no effect on the lobbying efforts that are going on for the new stimulus package though.  That one has politicians and lobbyists lined up, trying to get money for any projects within their districts.

Also, these rules have the unintended consequence of encouraging closed door, secret meetings like the one Bank of America had with the Treasury.  By outlawing lobbying, the banks will go to more secretive and shadier tactics.  

The whole idea of bailouts and the TARP were horrible from the start.  The House had it right the first time, when they voted against it.  Now we are living in a world where we, the people, have to just live with this garbage day after day.  

A President who really promotes change would have assessed the situation with unbiased eyes, realized how the TARP is not working, and had an action plan ready to go day one.  Instead, Obama’s team is saying it will take months to get up and running and just adding more crap on top of the stinking TARP.  We need real fixes, not patch jobs on what was a horrible idea from the start.

The Case for $350 Billion – New York Times Style

January 14, 2009

Here’s a very interesting “News Analysis” from the NY Times that reads more like a big government propaganda piece than an actual analysis.  It makes the case for giving banks more money, and how the TARP plan so far has pretty much done it’s job.

I started reading it, and a couple of paragraphs really got me going.  Here’s the first one:

The most glaring example that the banking system needs even more help is Citigroup. Though it already has received $45 billion from the Treasury, it is in such dire straits that it is breaking itself into parts

Huh?  That’s why the banking system needs to get fixed?  So what if it is breaking itself up?  It got into this mess by comingling their investment banking and commercial banking.  If they have to break up, then at least they can separate their good units from the ones that are strapped with bad debt and underperforming assets.  That’s a good thing!

Here’s another gem:

Even some of the bailout program’s harshest critics acknowledge that things most likely would be even worse without it, and that the bailout had accomplished its most important goal, which was to prevent a complete collapse of the financial system.

However, they don’t name any names or quote anyone here.  It’s just what these “news analysts” want to say.  You can’t definitively say that we’re better off after the bailout.  Maybe the banks are better, but you and me?  We’re still screwed.  The financial collapse didn’t happen overnight like it would have without a bailout.  Instead, we’re making it happen over months, and dragging the process out, leading to more hardship for all of us.

And here’s some pure comedy:

Regulators require banks to keep a healthy cushion of capital. But this time around, the banks are struggling to plug their deepening holes. Private investors are scarce. For all but a small group of healthy banks, bankers and analysts say, the government may be the only investor left.

Obviously, the authors of the article have no idea of how the US banking system works at all.  The first line is a dead give away.  Healthy cushion of capital?  You mean that 10% of all the money they loan out?  Fractional reserve banking does not require that much of a cushion.

This is an article full of stuff, but little substance.  It reads like an article trying to dumb down things enough to sway people to the views of the author, and it is not very persuasive.  The more I read the NY Times, the more I realize how their “analysis” is really written with a pro big government stance.  Please go out and educate yourself and read other sources of news and learn about our consumer based economy and our sham of a banking system.  Then you won’t be swayed by propaganda from news agencies like the New York Times.

What a Suprise. No One Can Find the Bailout Money!

December 22, 2008

Is anyone really suprised that we have no idea where our tax dollars involved in the TARP bailout are going?

The propenents of the TARP like Bernanke and Paulson agreed to all sorts of transparency but they won’t say where the money is going and what assets they have taken in return as collateral.  The Federal Reserve is a bank.  Or at least that’s what it is supposed to be.  If you were lending the money out, wouldn’t you want to know where it was going?

The banks are also playing dumb.  They just say it is pooled with all their other money and they can’t define exactly where it has gone.  What a joke!  They had no money to begin with!  Why else are they taking BILLIONS of dollars?

This is exactly why the recession we’re in isn’t getting any better.  There is no faith in the system at all.  We have no idea when the government is going to run out of ink for their printing press, and we have no idea if where all this money has gone.  Maybe it’s gone into the abyss that Paulson was warning us about.

If the Fed announced they would stop spending money tomorrow, interest rates would shoot up and we would have to find a way through the mess we’re in.  Companies would go bankrupt and there would be a huge initial hit to our entire economic system.  But after that quick hit, we could start to pick up the pieces and rebuild.  The high interest rates might restrict borrowing, but they would encourage lending.  We would come out on the other end as a completely different economy for the better.  Instead, we are just trying to hide the problems behind mountains of printed money.  We aren’t addressing any of the problems we are facing.

The TARP plan has to be one of the worst government interventions of all time.  It was passed by Congress using fear tactics and scare mongering.  It was poorly crafted and had no clear goal or intent, and it has changed since it was approved.  I’m not suprised one bit that no one knows where the money went, because no one knew where it was supposed to go to help in the first place.  It’s been an enormous failure and a waste of $350 billion so far, and no one is that mad about it because we all knew it would fail all along.

Thank God Cheney Can’t F-ck Us Anymore

December 21, 2008

Today, Vice President Dick Cheney defended the Bush Administrations actions of basically wiping their ass with the Constitution of this once great country.

The Face of Evil

The Face of Evil

He defended the domestic wiretapping, uses of exectutive power, and torture of terrorism suspects, saying he would do it all over again.  Also, Cheney said that the President has no checks and balances in the War on Terror and could launch a nuclear strike without Congress or the Courts to defend our country.

Really? Nuclear War?  What planet is this guy from?  Civil liberty?  Right to privacy?  Not in Cheney’s book.  He doesn’t care about anything except making the President the new King of the US.  While the neo-conservatives lost this election to Obama, they will be back and they will further advance their agenda of making the Executive Branch the sole source of power in the US.  I can’t believe Cheney has the gall to go on TV and spew this garbage!

Can we use this interview as an admission of guilt and throw this clown in prison for the rest of his life for treason?  As citizens, it is our job to hold our leaders accountable and follow the Constitution, which is the only document that grants power to certain branches of government.  Instead, we have let the Executive Branch grab more and more power.

Look at all the programs the Bush Administration has enacted – domestic wiretapping, recording out internet use, searching and seizing your property without a warrant, the Patriot Act, the right to go to war without Congress, setting up hidden prisons around the world, jailing US citizens without the right to trial, the new financial czar, the office of economic stability, and now the auto czar.  Not only have we stripped rights away from individual citizens, we are now nationalizing our financial system and our auto industry.  The government is really becoming “Big Brother.”

While the powers Bush grabbed seem to be used for fighting terror, how do we know Obama or the next President will not take this power further?  What if the next president decides that anyone who protests the government is supporting terrorists?  He could jail these protesters without the right of habeus corpus because of the powers he has taken. Or, he could search my home right now for writing this blog.  The powers granted to him allow the Executive branch to do this without a warrant.

Sure, he may never use these powers en masse against his own people, but who really knows?  Just the fact that this is possible should be enough to energize the public.  Instead, we are too busy fighting over gay marriage and other issues that do not directly effect our lives.  If we put the same passion behind restoring the government of this country to the vision of our founding fathers as we do in debating gay marriage, we would have a revolution starting tomorrow morning.

I know government will only get bigger under Obama, but hopefully he will have the common sense enough to restore some of the checks and balances on his power that Cheney and Bush have granted themselves.  I’m so glad that Cheney will be gone in a month and won’t have the chance to screw up our country any longer.  Hopefully, he’ll just go sit on the board of some company and f-ck over some shareholders, and not every single citizen of the United States.

When Will It Stop?

December 20, 2008

Today, President-elect Barack Obama announced that he has upped his goal to add at least 3 million jobs in his economic programs.

Also, we announced that we are going to double the number of our troops in Afghanistan.

Both of these announcements comes on the news that we just bailed out GM and Chrysler for $17 billion, and the Treasury is requesting to use the other $350 billion of the TARP that’s not a TARP plan.

Seriously, how are we going to pay for all this?  Even though creating jobs is a good thing, is it really the role for the government to create and pay these jobs?  How much will it cost to continue our military prescence in the Middle East and around the world?

At what point are we going to stand up and say enough?  It’s like we are all waiting for someone in the government to say it for us.  Well, I really doubt that is going to happen.

We need government to lead by example, not do exactly what we did to get into this mess.  Many people were living beyond their means, going deeper and deeper into debt, and now they can’t afford their mortgage payments and don’t want to spend money.  Now, our Federal Government is doing the same thing!  They are printing trillions of dollars, running up more debt, trying to inflate our way out of this crisis.

It’s not going to work!  Who’s going to bailout the dollar when the money finally makes it’s way down through the system?  Our Federal Government cannot print money forever.  It’s going to need a bailout, and when that happens, all of our standard of living will dramatically decline.

We need our government to try reign in their spending and pay attention to the huge deficit they are running.  Everything is at a standstill, waiting for the next bailout.  If they would just say, “we’re done, you figure it out” we would be out of this mess already.  The prospect of more and more money is making everyone sit on their hands.  We won’t find a bottom until the government stops trying to be a hero and gets out of the way.

Everyone is expecting Obama to come in and pull a couple of levers and make everything good again.  His already announced spending plans have the chance to run us into an even deeper hole.  We need a sound fiscal policy to start with the government and we need them to stop printing money and bailing everyone out.  Only after that will we really turn the corner and return to prosperity in the US.