Friday, December 5, 2008

Bailout holdings down $9 billion

AP IMPACT: Some bailout holdings down $9 billion
By FRANK BASS, Associated Press Writer Frank Bass, Associated Press Writer

Chart shows rate of returns for common stocks purchased by the Treasury from
AP – Chart shows rate of returns
for common stocks purchased by
the Treasury from financial institutions; …

Stock intended to eventually earn taxpayers a profit as part of the Bush administration's massive bank bailout has lost a third of its value — about $9 billion — in barely one month, according to an Associated Press analysis. Shares in virtually every bank that received federal money have remained below the prices the government negotiated.

Most of the Treasury Department's investments since late October have been in preferred bank stocks, more than $180 billion worth, with investments in giants like Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase, and many small community banks. But the government also negotiated options to buy up to 1.2 billion shares of common bank stock that was valued at $27 billion.

The Treasury Department said it did not expect these common stock options to be profitable immediately and negotiated them so taxpayers could share in the wealth if the bank stocks recover.

Now, however, the value of that common stock is worth less than $18 billion. If the government exercised all its warrants to purchase the stock today, it would lose money on 51 of its 53 agreements. Taxpayers would be out $9.1 billion.

The government can exercise its options to buy the common stock anytime over the next decade, but the options were "immediately exercisable," according to banks' securities filings.

"The markets are saying this plan isn't going to work for the banks," said Ross Levine, Tisch professor of economics at Brown University. "They're asking where this plan is going."

Potential losses among these common stocks include more than $3 billion for the administration's biggest deal, a $45 billion injection into Citigroup Inc. The government gave the New York-based giant $25 billion on Oct. 28. In addition to preferred stock worth $1,000 per share, the deal included warrants to pick up 210 million shares of common stock at $17.85. In late November, the White House put together a plan to give Citibank another $20 billion. The deal also included warrants to pick up 254 million shares, with the price set at $10.61.

Citigroup stock has since fallen below $8.

The government would only earn a profit if the share price eventually exceeds the negotiated warrant price. Under the bailout plan, the common stock warrants — effectively treated as stock options for non-employees — would allow taxpayers to share the wealth as banks recover.

"We're not exercising the warrants today," Treasury spokeswoman Brookly McLaughlin said. "We have 10 years to exercise the warrants, so it's more accurate to look at what the market believes are the 10-year prospects for these banks."

The Treasury Department projects that the $180 billion in preferred stock will generate roughly $9 billion per year during the first five years and $16.2 billion per year afterward, assuming the banks remain solvent.

The preferred stock has a fixed value of $1,000 per share, and a 5 percent annual dividend for the first five years of the investment.

Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. describes the cash infusion as "an investment, not an expenditure."

So far, however, only two of the 53 banks can be considered a good investment.

The AP's analysis found that only HF Financial Corp. of Sioux Falls, S.D., and First Niagara Financial Group of Lockport, N.Y., would make money for taxpayers if the common stock options were exercised today. According to records filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, both are small banks, far removed from the wheeling and dealing of federally insured giants that ravaged the global economy by making bad bets on subprime mortgages.

The South Dakota bank, for example, has a market value of $54 million, a fraction of the size of JPMorgan Chase, the nation's largest. The Treasury Department gave $25 million to HF Financial on Nov. 21 in exchange for 25,000 shares of preferred stock and warrants that allow taxpayers to buy 302,000 shares at $12.40 within the next decade. For now, it's a good deal; the bank's stock is trading around $13. If the government exercised its option to buy HF stock today, taxpayers would collect $63,500.

More companies would be in the black, but the government used a 20-day stock price average to set the warrant price, meaning it willingly negotiated to pay roughly 25 percent more than the stock was worth on the day it signed the deals on behalf of taxpayers.

Nara Bancorp, created in 1989 to serve Southern California's growing Korean-American community, borrowed $67 million from taxpayers on Nov. 21, when its stock was trading at $7.50 per share. But the government negotiated the option to buy 1 million shares of Nara common stock at $9.64, higher than its stock is currently trading.

"It's a complete mistake to think this is a good investment for us," said Paola Sapienza, a finance associate professor at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management, who spearheaded a September protest of the bailout by more than 200 of the nation's leading economists. "It's a gamble. It's like going to Las Vegas."

1 comment:

  1. Our Culture.
    Cultures take time to evolve. Our present culture came to be after world war two due to a number of favorable conditions. One of the factors was cheap domestic oil. We went into a period of growth that lasted till the 1970's when our domestic oil production peaked, and we no longer produced enough to supply our domestic needs.

    Successful cultures like to take personal credit for the success they enjoy, and to some extent it is deserved, but often people go beyond what they can actually take credit for. In general the US attributed it’s success to the fact we are smarter, and work harder then any other society. Now, we had opportunity, and we were able to take advantage of the opportunity, but basically we are no different then people any where else.

    Interestingly, though some other factors come to play, from the time oil peaked we have been going deeper into debt, and real incomes for the working and middle class have been declining. We have tired to maintain the culture of cheap oil when it was no longer the case. The growth we experienced after the war is no longer sustainable, and the idea that anyone who wants to work hard can be successful is no longer the case. The opportunities of growth are no longer a reality.

    A new culture needs to be developed based on sharing the resources. People who prosper in the culture like to take credit for their success, and the rich and powerful will be the last to recognize the need for change. Just like the successful will take credit for their success, they will belittle others who are struggling in a culture that no longer offers the opportunity it once did. They will accuse them of being lazy or stupid, when in fact they may be smarter and harder working then the people with the symbols of success.

    Take heart down trodden, together we can create a kinder fairer America.