Tuesday, December 23, 2008


Banks To U.S.: Drop Dead

The first part of that $700 billion bailout to the banks went -- where?

The banks essentially say, "Why the hell should we have to tell you?":
It's something any bank would demand to know before handing out a loan: Where's the money going? But after receiving billions in aid from U.S. taxpayers, the nation's largest banks say they can't track exactly how they're spending the money or they simply refuse to discuss it.
"We've lent some of it. We've not lent some of it. We've not given any accounting of, 'Here's how we're doing it,'" said Thomas Kelly, a spokesman for JPMorgan Chase, which received $25 billion in emergency bailout money. "We have not disclosed that to the public. We're declining to."
The Associated Press contacted 21 banks that received at least $1 billion in government money and asked four questions: How much has been spent? What was it spent on? How much is being held in savings, and what's the plan for the rest?
None of the banks provided specific answers.
"We're not providing dollar-in, dollar-out tracking," said Barry Koling, a spokesman for Atlanta, Ga.-based SunTrust Banks Inc., which got $3.5 billion in taxpayer dollars.

What a beautiful quote from the guy from JPMorganChase (in fairness, the most financially secure banking institution)! "We're declining to [disclose how we're spending our $25 billion]."

And the administration (Bush, Paulson and Co., who, yes, are still around) wants Congress to release the second $350 billion? Yeah, right.

As poorly as Congress rushed to approve the $700 billion, perhaps it did get one key element right --turning it into an installment plan. Given this intransigence from banks who have already gotten billions, how can Congress, in good conscience just open up the spiggot once again -- with no strings attached?

Will Bush use the Iraq war-funding gambit ("Release the money NOW or everything will fall apart!!")? Will it work? Better yet, what signal will Obama send Congress?

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