Thursday, August 12, 2010
If this doesn't piss you off, I don't know what will?
Watchdog panel cites global impact of US bailout
The $700 billion U.S. bailout program launched in response to the global economic meltdown had a far greater impact overseas than other countries' financial rescue plans did on the U.S., according to a new report from a congressional watchdog.
Billions of dollars in U.S. rescue funds wound up in big banks in France, Germany and other nations. That was probably inevitable because of the structure of the Treasury Department's program, the Congressional Oversight Panel says in a new report issued Thursday.
The U.S. program aimed to stabilize the financial system by injecting money into as many banks as possible, including those with substantial operations overseas. Most other countries, by contrast, focused their efforts more narrowly on banks in their nations that usually lacked major U.S. operations.
But the report says that if the U.S. had gotten more data on which foreign banks would benefit the most, the government might have been able to ask those countries to share some of the cost.
"There were no data about where this money was going," panel chair Elizabeth Warren said in a conference call with reporters on Wednesday. "The American people have a right to know where the money went."
An example: Major French and German banks were among the biggest beneficiaries of the U.S. rescue of American International Group Inc., yet the American government shouldered the entire $70 billion risk of pumping capital into the crippled insurance titan. The report compares that with the $35 billion that France spent on its overall financial rescue program and the $133 billion that Germany spent.
Much of the $182 billion in federal aid to AIG - the biggest of the government rescues - went to meet the company's obligations to its Wall Street trading partners on credit default swaps, a form of insurance against default of securities. The partners included French banks Societe Generale, which received $11.9 billion in AIG money, and BNP Paribas, which got $4.9 billion, and Germany's Deutsche Bank, $11.8 billion.
Of the 87 banks and financial entities that indirectly benefited from the U.S. aid to AIG, 43 are foreign, according to the report. In addition to France and Germany, they include banks based in Canada, Britain and Switzerland.