Posts Tagged ‘American International Group’

Bernanke Edges Closer to Closing the Cash Floodgates

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

The Fed needs to start paying its own bills from the financial bailout.  Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is starting to look at ways to back off from the central bank’s heroic efforts to keep the nation’s economy afloat through the financial crisis of the past 18 months. The trick to raising short-term interest rates, which have been at historic lows for more than a year, is to time them with extraordinary precision to avoid new damage to the still-fragile economy.

At present, the Fed has $2.29 trillion on its balance sheets, an increase from the $934 billion reported in September, 2008, when the financial crisis was at its worst. Bernanke plans to sell some of the Fed’s mortgages, Treasuries and debt by offering reverse repurchasing agreements.  Under these arrangements, the Fed sells its securities to a third party while agreeing to re-buy them at some point in the future.

The Fed’s next step is to sell banks and financial firms the equivalent of certificates of deposit.  In these cases, the Fed gets a portion of the bank’s reserves in exchange for paying interest at a fixed rate.  Called a “term deposit facility,” these deposits would be auctioned off and banks couldn’t count their investment in the Fed as cash or reserves.

“These programs, which imposed no cost on the taxpayer, were a critical part of the government’s efforts to stabilize the financial system and restart the flow of credit,” Bernanke said in testimony at a Capitol Hill hearing.  “As financial conditions have improved, the Federal Reserve has substantially phased out these lending programs.”

Czar Kenneth Feinberg Wants Across-the-Board Executive Pay Cuts

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

Pay czar Ken Feinberg thinks Wall Street executives make too much money.  Compensation czar Kenneth Feinberg – officially, the Obama administration’s special master for executive compensation – believes that the pay reductions he mandated at seven taxpayer-rescued firms should become the model  for Wall Street and corporate America.

“There is entirely too much reliance on cash and there’s got to be a better way to tie corporate performance to long-term growth,” Feinberg said.  “I’m hoping that the methodology we developed to determine compensation for these individuals might be voluntarily adopted elsewhere.”  The Obama administration is holding unregulated risk-taking fueled by excessive pay partially responsible for the financial crisis, which has caused $1.6 trillion in losses and write-downs globally, as well as 7,200,000 jobs in the United States.  Between Feinberg’s ruling and Federal Reserve guidelines for banker compensation, the government has inserted itself directly into decisions normally made by corporate boards.

Feinberg has restructured cash “guarantees” into stock that the recipients must hold over the “long term”, according to a statement from the Treasury Department.  “Guaranteed minimum amounts give employees little downside risk in the event of poor performance – but upside when times are good.”

Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve has proposed new guidelines on pay practices at that nation’s banks and plans to review the 28 biggest firms to assure that compensation packages don’t create incentives that lead to the risky investments that caused the worst financial crisis in 70 years.

$700 Billion Financial Bailout Plan Still Evolving

Friday, November 21st, 2008

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson is sitting on $350 billion dollars of the taxpayers’ money, and can’t quite settle on the best way to spend it.  When approved by Congress in October, the $700 billion Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) bill’s purpose was to purchase bad mortgage assets that had frozen the credit markets. The Treasury Department has already used approximately half of the money to capitalize banks and prevent insurer American International Group (AIG) from going into financial default.  The problem with the TARP bill is that conditions keep changing and Treasury is altering its focus to one of helping banks that are sound to stay healthy – with the ultimate goal of thawing credit.  Meanwhile, Treasury is coordinating with the Federal Reserve to restore consumer confidence so people start buying cars, taking out student loans, or even using their credit cards again.  The question is:  which version of TARP eventually will unfreeze the debt markets.  Given the complexity of the situation, there is no simple answer.  Because both Wall Street and Main Street are equally impacted, TARP is likely to end up providing some amount of relief to both groups.

So, the question is, which TARP is it?  We invite your comments.

http://www.reuters.com/article/ousiv/idUSTRE4AB7P820081112

http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/chi-thu-crisis-bailout-shift-nov13,0,2664351.story