Monday, December 06, 2010

Bailing Why-er

Along the lines of my simple questions theme today comes this column from Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the first and likely last Socialist to sit in Congress:

What have we learned so far from the disclosure of more than 21,000 transactions? We have learned that <b>the $700 billion Wall Street bailout signed into law by President George W. Bush</b> turned out to be pocket change compared to the trillions and trillions of dollars in near-zero interest loans and other financial arrangements the Federal Reserve doled out to every major financial institution in this country. Among those are Goldman Sachs, which received nearly $600 billion; Morgan Stanley, which received nearly $2 trillion; Citigroup, which received $1.8 trillion; Bear Stearns, which received nearly $1 trillion, and Merrill Lynch, which received some $1.5 trillion in short term loans from the Fed.

We also learned that the Fed's multi-trillion bailout was not limited to Wall Street and big banks, but that some of the largest corporations in this country also received a very substantial bailout. Among those are General Electric, McDonald's, Caterpillar, Harley Davidson, Toyota and Verizon.

Perhaps most surprising is the huge sum that went to bail out foreign private banks and corporations including two European megabanks -- Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse -- which were the largest beneficiaries of the Fed's purchase of mortgage-backed securities.

Deutsche Bank, a German lender, sold the Fed more than $290 billion worth of mortgage securities. Credit Suisse, a Swiss bank, sold the Fed more than $287 billion in mortgage bonds.

Has the Federal Reserve of the United States become the central bank of the world?

(ed. note: emphasis added for the yahoos who read this blog and blame Obama for the bailout)

OK, so not only banks got bailouts, but solid American companies like Harley-Davidson, McDonald's, Caterpillar, Verizon and General Electric did.

Aside from Harley (full disclosure: I own an insignificant number of shares of HOG) which is perennially on the ropes, do any of these companies sound like they're in any financial difficulty?

And Toyota? Deutsche Bank? Credit Suisse? Why aren't Japan, Germany and Switzerland taking care of their own? Did Germany help us bailout GM?

Here's the kicker: as Sanders points out, that bailout money went to businesses that, for the most part, are doing rather nicely now, thank you. Meanwhile, we quibble over extending unemployment benefits of less than $33 billion becomes "class warfare".

Companies no longer rely on nations for their financial health so why should we be bailing them out at all?