Archive for the ‘bailout’ Category

The Times Are not Right For a Liberal Agenda

November 28, 2008

In the old days — from the Venetian Republic to, oh, the Bear Stearns rescue — if you wanted to get rich, you did it the Warren Buffett way: You learned to read balance sheets. Today you learn to read political tea leaves. If you want to make money on Wall Street (or keep from losing your shirt), you do it not by anticipating Intel’s third-quarter earnings but by guessing instead what side of the bed Henry Paulson will wake up on tomorrow.

By Charles Krauthammer
The Washington Post

Today’s extreme stock market volatility is not just a symptom of fear — fear cannot account for days of wild market swings upward — but a reaction to meta-economic events: political decisions that have vast economic effects.

As economist Irwin Stelzer argues, we have gone from a market-driven economy to a politically driven economy. Consider seven days in November. On Tuesday, Nov. 18, Paulson broadly implies that he’s using only half the $700 billion bailout money. Having already spent most of his $350 billion, he’s going to leave the rest to his successor. The message received on Wall Street — I’m done, I’m gone.

Facing the prospect of two months of political limbo, the market craters. Led by the banks (whose balance sheets did not change between Tuesday and Wednesday), the market sees the largest two-day drop in the S&P since 1933, not a very good year.

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http://www.washingtonpost.com/w
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Fighting the Financial Crisis, One Challenge at a Time

November 18, 2008

WE are going through a financial crisis more severe and unpredictable than any in our lifetimes. We have seen the failures, or the equivalent of failures, of Bear Stearns, IndyMac, Lehman Brothers, Washington Mutual, Wachovia, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the American International Group. Each of these failures would be tremendously consequential in its own right. But we faced them in succession, as our financial system seized up and severely damaged the economy.

By Henry M. Paulson, Jr.
Treasury Secretary
Op-Ed, The New York Times

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson addresses a gathering of corporate ...
Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson addresses a gathering of corporate CEOs, Monday, Nov. 17, 2008. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

By September, the government faced a systemwide crisis. After months of making the most of the authority we already had, we asked Congress for a comprehensive rescue package so we could stabilize our financial system and minimize further damage to our economy.

By the time the legislation had passed on Oct. 3, the global market crisis was so broad and so severe that we needed to move quickly and take powerful steps to stabilize our financial system and to get credit flowing again. Our initial intent was to strengthen the banking system by purchasing illiquid mortgages and mortgage-related securities. But the severity and magnitude of the situation had worsened to such an extent that an asset purchase program would not be effective enough, quickly enough. Therefore, exercising the authority granted by Congress in this legislation, we quickly deployed a $250 billion capital injection program, fully anticipating we would follow that with a program for buying troubled assets.

There is no playbook for responding to turmoil we have never faced. We adjusted our strategy to reflect the facts of a severe market crisis, always keeping focused on our goal: to stabilize a financial system that is integral to the everyday lives of all Americans. By mid-October, our actions, in combination with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s guarantee of certain debt issued by financial institutions, helped us to accomplish the first major priority, which was to immediately stabilize the financial system.

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http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/18/opinion
/18paulson.html?_r=1

Detroit’s Auto Industry, Failure’s a Done Deal

November 18, 2008

“Nothing,” said a General Motors spokesman last week, “has changed relative to the GM board’s support for the GM management team during this historically difficult economic period for the U.S. auto industry.” Nothing? Not even the evaporation of almost all shareholder value?

By George F. Will
The Washington Post
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GM’s statement comes as the mendicant company is threatening to collapse and make a mess unless Washington, which has already voted $25 billion for GM, Ford and Chrysler, provides up to $50 billion more — the last subsidy until the next one. The statement uses the 11 words after “team” to suggest that the company’s parlous condition has been caused by events since mid-September. That is as ludicrous as the mantra that GM is “too big to fail.” It has failed; the question is what to do about that.

The answer? Do nothing that will delay bankrupt companies from filing for bankruptcy protection….

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http://www.washingtonpost.com/w
p-dyn/content/article/2008/11/17
/AR2008111703101.html?hpid=opi
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By Martin Feldstein
The Washington Post
Tuesday, November 18, 2008; Page A27

The Big Three U.S. automakers need more than an injection of $25 billion from the federal government. Because of their ongoing losses, they would burn through that money in less than a year and would soon be back for more.

General Motors, Ford and Chrysler can make excellent cars, but they cannot sell them at prices that are competitive with the prices of cars produced in the United States by Toyota and others or with the prices of cars imported from Europe and Asia. The basic reason is the labor costs imposed by union contracts.

The Big Three pay much higher wages than production workers are paid in the nonunion auto firms and in the general economy. And the health-care costs of current workers and retired union members are an enormous additional burden.

The simplest solution is to allow GM and the others to file for bankruptcy. If the companies file under Chapter 11, they would be able to continue producing cars, and the workforce would remain employed while the firms reorganized. The firms would also be able to get short-term credit under bankruptcy protection.

The bankruptcy court could require the unions to rewrite contracts, bringing wages down to levels that would allow the firms to compete and therefore to maintain employment. Scaling back employee and retiree health benefits would further improve price competitiveness and allow better cash wages. The firms’ bondholders and other creditors would have to take losses. Shareholders’ fate would depend on how firms responded to this restructuring.

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http://www.washingtonpost.com/w
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At G-20, China Did Not Commit Bailout Funds Despite Huge Reserves

November 16, 2008

China got what it wanted in Washington’s financial summit — a promise of a bigger role for developing countries in global finance — but gave no sign Sunday whether it will respond by using any of its $1.9 trillion in reserves in a bailout fund.

By JOE McDONALD, AP Business Writer

China has been pushing for developing countries generally — and itself specifically — to have more influence at the International Monetary Fund and other global bodies. Analysts say that might be Beijing’s price to give in to foreign appeals to dip into its reserves and contribute money toward an IMF emergency loan fund for struggling countries.

The Washington summit was an “important and positive” step toward “the reform of the international financial structure,” foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang said in a statement. It made no mention of possible bailout contributions, and a man who answered the phone at the ministry press office said he had no information.

Leaders from 21 nations, including China, and four international organizations attended the emergency two-day summit intended to address the financial crisis sweeping the globe.

Summit participants vowed Saturday at the conclusion of the two-day conference to cooperate more closely, keep a sharper eye out for potential problems and give bigger roles to fast-rising nations. But the leaders avoided many of the harder details leaving them to be worked out before their next summit, after President George W. Bush is gone and President-elect Barack Obama is in the White House.

China says it will cooperate with the IMF but Chinese officials say its most important role will be to preserve global growth by keeping its own economy healthy. Beijing announced a 4 trillion yuan ($586 billion) stimulus package last week, at a time of slowing economic growth and fears that falling exports could lead to layoffs and factory closures.

“China’s economic power is growing, so China could contribute and help ease the financial crisis,” said Wu Jinglian, a prominent economist and Cabinet adviser. “But the first priority is to keep our own economy growing. That will benefit every country in the world.”

A woman cooks while her husband playing computer games inside ...
A woman cooks while her husband playing computer games inside the prefabricated temporary housing in Yingxiu, Sichuan Province in China Nov. 8, 2008. Six months after the worst quake to hit China in three decades, the future remains uncertain for many survivors. Jobs are hard to come by, and government aid payments are about to end. Many people are still in temporary housing. China’s leaders have called reconstruction a priority. Last week, the government announced plans to pump $146 billion into the effort over the next three years. Some 120 billion yuan ($17.5 billion) will be spent on ensuring schools, hospitals and other public facilities are built to higher standards.(AP Photo/Andy Wong)

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http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081116/ap_on_re_as/as_asia_meltdown_summit_1

Top Republican senators oppose automaker bailout

November 16, 2008

Top Republican senators said Sunday they will oppose a Democratic plan to bail out Detroit automakers, calling the U.S. industry a “dinosaur” whose “day of reckoning” is coming. Their opposition raises serious doubts about whether the plan will pass in this week’s postelection session.

Democratic leaders want to use $25 billion of the $700 billion financial industry bailout to help General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler LLC.

By Stephen Ohlemacher, Associated Press Writer

Sens. Richard Shelby of Alabama and Jon Kyl of Arizona said it would be a mistake to use any of the Wall Street rescue money to prop up the automakers. They said an auto bailout would only postpone the industry’s demise.
Richard Shelby
Senator Shelby

“Companies fail every day and others take their place. I think this is a road we should not go down,” said Shelby, the senior Republican on the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee.

General Motors headquarters is seen October 26, 2008 in Detroit, ... 
General Motors headquarters is seen October 26, 2008 in Detroit, Michigan. Picture taken October 26, 2008.(Rebecca Cook/Reuters)

“They’re not building the right products,” he said. “They’ve got good workers but I don’t believe they’ve got good management. They don’t innovate. They’re a dinosaur in a sense.”

Added Kyl, the Senate’s second-ranking Republican: “Just giving them $25 billion doesn’t change anything. It just puts off for six months or so the day of reckoning.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said over the weekend that the House would provide aid to the ailing industry, though she did not put a price on her plan.

“The House is ready to do it,” said Democratic Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. “There’s no downside to trying.”
Rep. Barney Frank, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Christopher J. Dodd were among the congressional Democrats negotiating the bailout settlement on Sunday. (Joseph Silverman/The Washington Times)

Above: Ready to bail, from L to R: Rep. Barney Frank, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Christopher J. Dodd. Photo by Joseph Silverman

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http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081116/ap_on_go
_co/auto_bailout;_ylt=AmAt77VLR57r0Uq41kBoeYWs0NUE

Chances Dwindle on Bailout Plan for Automakers

November 14, 2008

The prospects of a government rescue for the foundering American automakers dwindled Thursday as Democratic Congressional leaders conceded that they would face potentially insurmountable Republican opposition during a lame-duck session next week.

By David M. Herszenhorn  
The New York Times
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At the same time, hope among many Democrats on Capitol Hill for an aggressive economic stimulus measure all but evaporated. Democratic leaders have been calling for a package that would include help for the auto companies as well as new spending on public works projects, an extension of jobless benefits, increased food stamps and aid to states for rising Medicaid expenses.

But while Democrats said the stimulus measure would wait until President-elect Barack Obama takes office in January, some industry experts fear that one of the Big Three automakers will collapse before then, with potentially devastating consequences.

Despite hardening opposition at the White House and among Republicans on Capitol Hill, the Democrats said they would press ahead with efforts to provide $25 billion in emergency aid for the automakers. But they said the bill would need to be approved first in the Senate, which some Democrats said was highly unlikely.

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http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/14/business/
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dxnnlx=1226649694-VV22vNLQxrIE1qxIf8tqEQ

A Lemon of a Bailout

November 14, 2008

When you get gemons, “make lemonaide” the saying goes.  But when spending taxpayer billions for a fiscal and economic recovery plan or “bailout” that almost nobody likes, a lemon can get in the way….

By Charles Krauthammer
The Washington Post
Friday, November 14, 2008; Page A19

Finally, the outlines of a coherent debate on the federal bailout. This comes as welcome relief from a campaign season that gave us the House Republicans’ know-nothing rejectionism, John McCain‘s mindless railing against “greed and corruption,” and Barack Obama‘s detached enunciation of vacuous bailout “principles” that allowed him to be all things to all people.

Now clarity is emerging. The fault line is the auto industry bailout. The Democrats are pushing hard for it. The White House is resisting.

Underlying the policy differences is a philosophical divide. The Bush administration sees the $700 billion rescue as an emergency measure to save the financial sector on the grounds that finance is a utility. No government would let the electric companies go under and leave the country without power. By the same token, government must save the financial sector lest credit dry up and strangle the rest of the economy.

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson is willing to stretch the meaning of “bank” by extending protection to such entities as American Express. But fundamentally, he sees government as saving institutions that deal in money, not other stuff.

Democrats have a larger canvas, with government intervening in other sectors of the economy to prevent the cascade effect of mass unemployment leading to more mortgage defaults and business failures (as consumer spending plummets), in turn dragging down more businesses and financial institutions, producing more unemployment, etc. — the death spiral of the 1930s.

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 http://www.washingtonpost.com/w
p-dyn/content/article/2008/11/13
/AR2008111303348.html?hpid=opinionsbox1

Commentary: Say no to the auto bailout

November 13, 2008

General Motors, Ford, Chrysler and the United Auto Workers union are pouring millions of dollars into a lobbying campaign for a taxpayer bailout.

The money devoted to influence peddling in Washington would be better spent on improving quality and finding ways to reduce a bloated cost structure, but both management and UAW have decided that fleecing taxpayers is a better option.

A taxpayer bailout would be a terrible mistake. It would subsidize the shoddy management practices of the corporate bureaucrats at General Motors, Ford and Chrysler, and it would reward the intransigent union bosses who have made the synonymous with inflexible and anti-competitive work rules.

Perhaps most important, though, is that a bailout would be bad for the long-term health of the American auto industry. It would discriminate against the 113,000 Americans who have highly-coveted jobs building cars for Nissan, BMW and other auto companies that happen to be headquartered in other nations.

These companies demonstrate that it is possible to build cars in America and make money. Putting them at a competitive disadvantage with handouts for the U.S.-headquartered companies would be highly unjust.

A bailout also would be bad for General Motors, Ford and Chrysler. The so-called Big Three desperately need to fundamentally restructure their practices. More specifically, the car companies need to endure some short-term pain in order to restore long-term viability. But that won’t happen if politicians raid the treasury.

From CNN

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http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/11/13/mitchell.
auto/index.html

Goldman suspends GM rating, Chrysler urges aid

November 13, 2008

Goldman Sachs suspended its rating on General Motors Corp on Thursday and said the automaker needs at least $22 billion in federal aid, while Chrysler said it would be “very difficult to survive” without government support.

By Soyoung Kim, Reuters

Chrysler LLC Chief Executive Bob Nardelli said Chrysler was losing money due to a decline in U.S. auto sales to 25-year lows, and said Chrysler would seek federal money for its liquidity and restructuring needs.

In one of his few appearances since merger talks between GM and Chrysler broke off, Nardelli said Chrysler must have broader ties with U.S. automakers or alliances with overseas competitors to ride out the industry downturn.

The auto industry has stepped up lobbying efforts for government support and the heads of the three U.S.-based automakers are expected to testify next week before a congressional committee considering aid for the industry.

The Bush administration said the government could quickly disburse $25 billion in loans already approved by Congress. However, the administration has responded coolly to an aid plan being shaped by Democrats, which includes using part of the $700 billion financial rescue package to provide additional liquidity for the auto industry.

U.S. President-elect Barack Obama is considering appointing someone to lead efforts to help the auto industry return to health, an Obama aide said on Thursday.

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http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20081113/bs_nm/us_autos;_
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Congress isn’t waiting for Obama

November 13, 2008

Lawmakers are unveiling plans to expand health coverage and curb global warming. And Democratic leaders have called a lame-duck session next week to discuss an auto industry bailout.
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More than two months before he is sworn in, Barack Obama already is facing a Congress busily asserting itself on the timing and details of the president-elect’s agenda, including major issues like healthcare and economic policy.

By Janet Hook, Noam N. Levey and Peter Nicholas
The Los Angeles Times
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Committee chairmen are unveiling legislation to expand health insurance coverage and curb global warming. Democratic leaders have called a lame-duck session next week to consider an auto industry bailout. And other economic stimulus measures may be enacted even before Obama is inaugurated.

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http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/
nation/la-na-agenda13-2008nov13,0,3893199.story