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Global Financial and Economic Crises

Project: Global Financial and Economic Crisis 2007-Present
Open-Content project managed by KJF, mtuck

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Testifying to Congress on his opposition to raising taxes on the wealthy, millionaire financier J. P. Morgan Jr. says: “If you destroy the leisure class, you destroy civilization. The leisure class can be defined by people who can afford to hire a maid.” [Hunt, 9/1/2009, pp. 4]

Entity Tags: J. P. Morgan, Jr.

Category Tags: Other Events in Economic History, Commentaries and Criticisms

Roosevelt giving his inaugural address.Roosevelt giving his inaugural address. [Source: US Politics Guide]Newly elected President Franklin Delano Roosevelt delivers his Inaugural Address in Washington immediately after being sworn into office. To a country reeling from the effects of the Great Depression, Roosevelt offers a ringing promise of economic change—the first hints of what will become his “New Deal” economic policies. “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” he tells the crowd, “nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”
Acknowledges Economic Calamity - He continues: “Our common difficulties concern, thank God, only material things. Values have shrunk to fantastic levels; taxes have risen; our ability to pay has fallen; government of all kinds is faced by serious curtailment of income; the means of exchange are frozen in the currents of trade; the withered leaves of industrial enterprise lie on every side; farmers find no markets for their produce: the savings of many years in thousands of families are gone. A host of unemployed citizens face the grim problem of existence. Only a foolish optimist can deny the dark realities of the moment.”
'Rulers of the Exchange,' 'Money Lenders' Stand Responsible - “Primarily, this is because the rulers of the exchange of mankind’s goods have failed through their own stubbornness and their own incompetence, have admitted their failure and abdicated,” Roosevelt says. “Practices of the unscrupulous money changers stand indicted. True, they have tried, but their efforts have been cast in the pattern of an outworn tradition. Faced by failure of credit, they have proposed only the lending of more money. Stripped of the lure of profit by which to induce our people to follow their false leadership, they have resorted to exhortations, pleading tearfully for restored confidence. They know only the rules of a generation of self-seekers. The money changers have fled from their high seats in the temple of our civilization. We may now restore that temple to the ancient truths. There must be an end to a conduct in banking and in business which too often has given to a sacred trust the likeness of callous and selfish wrongdoing. Small wonder that confidence languishes, for it thrives only on honesty, on honor, on the sacredness of obligations, on faithful protection, on unselfish performance.”
Call to Action - He continues: “This nation asks for action, and action now. Our greatest primary task is to put people to work. It can be accomplished in part by direct recruiting by the government itself, treating the task as we would treat the emergency of a war.… It can never be helped by merely talking about it. We must act, and act quickly. There must be a strict supervision of all banking and credits and investments; there must be an end to speculation with other people’s money, and there must be provision for an adequate but sound currency. These are the lines of attack.” [Time, 3/13/1933]

Entity Tags: Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Category Tags: Pre-2001 Policies and Actions

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) announces a planned meeting set for September 22, 1971 to call for a larger share of assets, profits, and management of oil companies operating in its countries. The relevant oil companies refuse its demands. OPEC specifically states in its announcement that it wants to “take immediate steps toward the implementation of the principle participation in the existing oil concessions.” [New York Times, 8/14/1971]

Entity Tags: Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries

Category Tags: Oil and OPEC

President Nixon officially announces the end of the gold standard system of monetary policy for international exchange of gold deposits in an evening address to the country. Nixon’s move to sever the link between the dollar’s value and gold reserves effectively ends the Breton Woods system of monetary exchange and changes the dollar to a “floating” currency whose value is to be determined largely by market influences. Nixon’s decision results from a run on gold exchanges and rampant speculation in gold markets in Europe, and he changes the US monetary policy after receiving advice from Treasury Secretary John Connally, Under Secretary for Monetary Affairs Paul A. Volcker, and others in a special working group. The dollar becomes a fiat currency, causing a brief international panic before other countries follow suit and also allow their currencies to “float.” [New York Times, 8/16/1971, pp. 1]

Entity Tags: John Connally, Paul Volcker, Richard M. Nixon

Category Tags: US Monetary Policy, Pre-2001 Policies and Actions

On a two day tour of Europe stopping in London and Paris to meet with finance ministers, Undersecretary of the Treasury for Monetary Affairs Paul A. Volcker meets with the finance ministers of both Britain and France to reassure their governments that the end of the gold standard is in the best interests of both governments and maintain that the United States is in no position to prevent other governments from “floating” their currencies. [New York Times, 8/18/1971]

Entity Tags: Paul Volcker

Category Tags: US Monetary Policy

Edward M. Bernstein, former director of research for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and attendee to the Breton Woods conference, calls on international governments to handle all reserve exchange transactions in a reserve settlement account whereby “countries would earmark their gold, SDR’s (Special Drawing Rights), dollar, and other foreign exchange” for the account. In doing so the countries would have the opportunity to settle all reserve transactions through the account, thereby eliminating excess reserve accruals and violent market influences. [New York Times, 8/26/1971]

Entity Tags: International Monetary Fund, Edward M. Bernstein

Category Tags: US Monetary Policy

Senator J. William Fulbright (D-AR) of the Foreign Relations Committee warns of further turmoil in the Middle East due to dependence of foreign oil and the US stance on Israel. He states his assertion that forcible acquisition of Middle East oil rights and supplies is imminent given the current course he sees. He proceeds to outline a vision for a political solution amenable to all sides recognizing Israel’s security interests, the need for stability in the region to guarantee oil exports, as well as recognizing Arab state economies. Senator Henry “Scoop” Jackson (D-WA) immediately replies to Fulbright’s statements, calling them “irresponsible” and goes to support Israel in the debate. Fulbright responds with his plan for keeping a calm Middle East, but also warns of the possibility of terrorist actions perpetrated by Middle Eastern powers and individuals stemming from current policy stances taken by the US and Israel. He also cautions on the possibility of an oil embargo should the current policy proceed unabated. [New York Times, 5/22/1973, pp. 5]

Entity Tags: Henry (“Scoop”) Jackson, J. William Fulbright

Category Tags: Oil and OPEC, Commentaries and Criticisms

Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) announces five percent cutbacks for all members on oil exported to the United States and the Netherlands in a meeting held in Kuwait. This event ushers in the era of “oil as a weapon” in foreign policy utilized by Arab powers. Protesting the US and the Netherlands’ support of Israel in the on-going Yom Kippur War, OPEC sets the tone for other Arab and Muslim nations. [New York Times, 10/18/1973, pp. 1]

Entity Tags: Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries

Category Tags: Oil and OPEC

Efforts are made to improve the interest rate environment in which banks, and especially thrifts, have to operate, such as the Monetary Control Act of 1980 (see April 1, 1980), and numerous changes in the regulatory frameworks at the state and federal level. Despite all this activity, it remains the case that interest rates on sources of funds to the thrift industry lags behind those that could be paid by commercial banks and nonbanks in new vehicles such as money market accounts. Consequently, thrift bankers find it increasingly difficult to keep their businesses supplied with enough funds to sustain a profitable rate of new lending. The industry therefore cannot avoid a period of higher than historical failure levels and voluntary mergers and departures from the industry. [Brumbaugh et al., 1987]

Entity Tags: Monetary Control Act of 1980

Category Tags: 1980s Savings and Loan Crisis, Pre-2001 Policies and Actions

The 23rd largest commercial bank in the country gets a package of $1.5 billion in financial assistance, in exchange for close supervision of its operations by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). The aid consists of a $1 billion bank line of credit from the Federal Reserve, a $325 million loan from the FDIC written as a subordinated note to be paid off after five years and interest-free for the first year, and $175 million in other notes to a group of commercial banks. The following year, as regulators and the banking industries search for a response to a rising incidence of bank insolvency, the First Pennsylvania agreement will be seen by some as a model. [Wall Street Journal, 6/8/1981]

Entity Tags: Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, First Pennsylvania Bank, Federal Reserve Board of Governors

Category Tags: 1980s Savings and Loan Crisis

President Jimmy Carter signs the Depository Institutions Deregulation and Monetary Control Bill into law. Carter says the bill will “help control inflation, strengthen our financial institutions and help small savers.” Among the bill’s main provisions are raising of ceilings on the interest paid to small savers and a substantial enhancement to the monetary control powers of the nation’s central bank, the Federal Reserve System. The main provisions of the law:
bullet Permanently overrides state-imposed ceilings on mortgage rates unless states act within three years to reenact them.
bullet Wipes out for three years interest rate limits on agricultural and business loans of more than $25,000.
bullet Increases to 15 percent from 12 percent the maximum interest rate on credit union loans, with even higher rates possible for periods up to 18 months.
bullet Continues use of credit union share drafts, bank’s automatic transfer accounts and remote service units.
bullet Simplifies truth-in-lending laws.
bullet Requires lenders to repay consumers for overcharges.
bullet Authorizes federal savings and loan associations to expand their consumer loan and credit card operations and allows them to offer trust services.
bullet Gives the Federal Reserve a more effective reach by establishing a universal and uniform system of banking reserves. Over an eight year period all depository institutions, including savings and loan associations and mutual savings banks, will be encouraged to post reserves with their chapter Federal Reserve banks which will be 12 percent of all transactions as opposed to the tiered structure at 16 1/4 percent, leaving those that left the Federal Reserve System prior to the enactment of this law at a competitive disadvantage until they themsleves register their funds with the Federal Reserve. [New York Times, 4/1/1980, pp. 1]

Entity Tags: James Earl “Jimmy” Carter, Jr., US Federal Reserve

Category Tags: US Monetary Policy, Pre-2001 Policies and Actions

In an unintroduced telephone call to R. W. Tanner, president of Vernon Savings and Loan of Vernon, Texas, Donald Ray ‘Don’ Dixon expresses interest in purchasing a small town S&L such as Vernon, which is located in a town where Dixon lived in his boyhood. Dixon does not reveal to Tanner, who does not recall having discussed the possibility of a sale of Vernon to anyone, that a mortgage insurer known to both men has given Dixon the referral. The phone call leads to a meeting between the two after a few days, during which Dixon says that if he bought the thrift he would continue the small-town, conservative style of savings and loan banking that Tanner had practiced for years. It appears to have been considered incidental by everyone at Vernon except possibly Tanner’s assistant, Woody Lemons, that Dixon’s other business affiliation was his real estate development enterprise, the Dondi Group. [O'Shea, 1991, pp. 2-5, 6] Dixon also does not tell Tanner at this time that Dixon’s source of cash is to be Herman K. Beebe, a Louisiana finance and real estate businessman of wide-ranging interests and a person of note in the 1976 rent-a-bank scandal that had come to light in the collapse of the Citizens State Bank (Carrizo Springs, TX) failure, and who, it will later be revealed, is involved in numerous acquisitions of smaller thrift institutions in the southwestern United States during the early 1980s. Beebe’s involvement with Vernon through Dixon is only revealed to Tanner at the point of signing the final purchase agreement nearly one year after this. [Pizzo, Fricker, and Muolo, 1989, pp. 188-192, 234, 231-235; Black, 2005, pp. 38]

Entity Tags: R.W. Tanner, Donald Dixon, Herman K. Beebe, Woody Lemons, Dondi Group, Vernon Savings and Loan

Category Tags: 1980s Savings and Loan Crisis

About one month after their first meeting in Austin (see (early 1981)), Don Dixon and R.W. Tanner sign an agreement selling Vernon Savings and Loan to Dixon for $5.8 million in cash, or about 1.4 times its book value. The deal already had verbal clearances, to Tanner, from the Texas state thrift regulator and the federal government’s regional thrift regulators in Little Rock, Arkansas. [O'Shea, 1991, pp. 8] However, it will turn out that the papers signed at this time are not the final word on the terms of Dixon’s eventual acquisition of Vernon Savings and Loan. There is to be at least one more round of negotiations, which will result in a considerable reduction of the cash portion of the transaction. The deal is not finally consummated for nearly another year. [Pizzo, Fricker, and Muolo, 1989, pp. 191]

Entity Tags: Donald Dixon, Vernon Savings and Loan, Herman K. Beebe, R.W. Tanner

Category Tags: 1980s Savings and Loan Crisis

Rep. Fernand J. St. Germain (D-RI), with 28 co-sponsors, introduces HR 6267, the “Net Worth Guarantee Act” officially entitled “A bill to revitalize the housing industry by strengthening the financial stability of home mortgage lending institutions and ensuring the availability of home mortgage loans.” [Library of Congress, 5/19/2008] As introduced, the bill would create a fund for loans to those troubled banks and savings and loans institutions that would have to be put into receivership if their condition deteriorates to a small degree from the bill’s qualifying requirements. The provisions are as follows:
bullet Amendments to the Federal Deposit Insurance Act (which regulates the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, FDIC), the National Housing Act (which regulates the Federal Home Loan Bank Board, FHLBB), and the Federal Credit Union Act (the National Credit Union Administration Board, NCUAB) so that the regulated bodies can guarantee the net worth of qualified insured institutions.
bullet Requirements that a qualifying depository institution be one that is threatened with insolvency, as measured by very low net worth and a recent trend of losses; that the institution be one that mainly serves the residential mortgage industry, as measured by the share of its loans or other assets that are held in or collateralized by residential mortgages or real estate; and that it continue in this service under the net worth guarantee, as measured by the share of its new deposits that it devotes to certain types of mortgages.
bullet Rules for determining the initial amount of the guarantee, and for either extending or phasing out the assistance to a given institution. Extensions after two years are to be contingent upon a showing that “certified continued earnings losses are caused by general market conditions and not by the actions of the institution.”
bullet Creation of a Net Worth Guarantee Account in the US Treasury in the amount of $8.5 billion to cover the payment of any guarantees.
bullet A sunset date for new extensions of guarantees.
bullet An oversight process in which the three bank regulating bodies report quarterly to Congress on their activities in granting guarantees, and the comptroller of the currency provides semiannual audits. [Library of Congress, 5/14/2008; Library of Congress, 5/14/2008]
Fate in the House - The Net Worth Guarantee Act passes the House of Representatives on May 20, 1982, with amendments that extend the coverage to qualifying State-chartered commercial banks, and qualifying national banks whether or not they are members of the FDIC; that add investment in residential housing co-operative stock and mortgages on multifamily rental projects to the qualifying activities for sustaining the guarantee; that alter the exit path from the program; that add compliance with community credit provision requirements under the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977; that make the Treasury senior to holders of existing subordinated debt of any guaranteed bank that later winds up in receivership; and that clearly give the sunset date as September 30, 1984. [Library of Congress, 5/14/2008; Library of Congress, 5/14/2008; Library of Congress, 5/14/2008]
Eventual Fate - With substantial amendments that address other banking regulatory issues besides the net worth of depository institutions, the bill finally passes the Senate under several short titles, of which the primary is “Depository Institutions Amendments of 1982,” superseding S.2879 sponsored by Sen. E.J. “Jake” Garn. The bill is enacted with the signature of President Ronald Reagan on October 15, 1982 as the Garn-St. Germain Depository Institutions Act of 1982. [Library of Congress, 5/14/2008]

Entity Tags: Charles Schumer, Steny Hoyer, Fernand J. St. Germain

Category Tags: 1980s Savings and Loan Crisis, US Financial Deregulation

The House Banking Committee approves H.R. 6267, the Net Worth Guarantee Act, by a vote of 25 to 15, with three abstaining. The approval is the first action of Congress to provide direct and specific financial assistance to troubled thrifts, although by a reported estimate in the New York Times, most of the nation’s 4,500 thrift depositories are “losing money” by this time. [New York Times, 5/12/1982, pp. D1, D13] Voting on the bill, which was introduced into the House by Representative and committee chairman Fernand J. St. Germain (D-RI) on May 4 (see May 4-October 15, 1982), is largely partisan: Republican members generally favor an alternative proposal by Rep. Chalmers P. Wylie (R-OH) that differs in qualifying firms at a higher current net worth, and in allowing regulators discretion over this qualification, although debate on the Wylie amendments is short-circuited by a motion to table the amendment made by Rep. Frank Annunzio (D-IL). [New York Times, 5/12/1982, pp. D1, D13] The Wylie provisions form the basis for the bill S.2531 which is introduced into the Senate on May 14, 1982 (see May 14, 1982). [New York Times, 5/12/1982, pp. D1, D13; Library of Congress, 5/19/2008]

Entity Tags: House Banking Committee, Chalmers P. Wylie, Fernand J. St. Germain, Frank Annunzio

Category Tags: US Financial Deregulation

The Capital Assistance Act of 1982 is introduced by Sen. E.J. (Jake) Garn (R-UT) and three co-sponsors under the title, “A bill to provide flexibility to the Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corporation and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to deal with financially distressed institutions.” [Library of Congress, 5/20/2008; Library of Congress, 5/20/2008] The bill provides the following:
bullet Amendments to the National Housing Act and the Federal Deposit Insurance Act so that the Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corporation (FSLIC) and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) may buy capital certificates from institutions that they regulate, for the purpose of either increasing or maintaining the capital of those institutions.
bullet Criteria that qualifying institutions must meet to receive this assistance. The criteria differ from those required by the Net Worth Guarantee Act importantly in requiring a prior net worth of three percent of assets, instead of two percent in the House version.
bullet Parameters of the initial capital certificates, and provision for the subsequent modification of those parameters at the discretion of the FSLIC and FDIC.
bullet Restriction of aid to cases in which this course of action is less costly than liquidation of the institution would be. [Library of Congress, 5/20/2008] The most important difference between the Capital Assistance Act (CAA) and the Net Worth Guarantee Act (NWGA) is that the CAA is meant to avoid the need for a Congressional appropriation of funds. Instead of establishing a Treasury account to be drawn on to fund the assistance, as does the NWGA, the CAA would permit the assisting agencies, FSLIC or FDIC, to give the thrifts promissory notes in exchange for the thrifts capital certificates. [New York Times, 5/15/1982] The Capital Assistance Act of 1982 is evidently the bill that Rep. Wylie promised several days previously would be introduced into the Senate, on the occasion of the approval by the House Banking Committee of the Net Worth Guarantee Act without the amendments that Wylie had offered for that bill. The new bill in the Senate has several features of Wylie’s amendments. [New York Times, 5/12/1982] According to Sen. Garn, Treasury Secretary Donald T. Regan also contributed to the new bill.
Eventual Fate - On August 19, while under consideration in the Senate Banking Committe, the key provisions of S.2531 will be incorporated into S.2879 and passed to the floor of the Senate the next day. Bill S.2879 will be passed by the Senate on September 24, and ultimately incorporated into H.R.6267, the Garn-St Germain Depository Institutions Act of 1982. [Library of Congress, 5/20/2008; Library of Congress, 5/20/2008]

Entity Tags: Capital Assistance Act of 1982, Donald Regan, E. J. (“Jake”) Garn, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Chalmers P. Wylie, Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corporation, National Housing Act of 1933, Federal Deposit Insurance Act, Fernand J. St. Germain

Category Tags: US Financial Deregulation

US banker Douglas McDermott says of the US-backed Venezuelan dictator Marcos Perez Jimenez, “You have the freedom here to do what you want with your money, and to me, that is worth all the political freedom in the world.” [Hunt, 9/1/2009, pp. 9]

Entity Tags: Marcos Perez Jimenez, Douglas McDermott

Timeline Tags: US International Relations, US-Venezuela (1948-2005)

Category Tags: Commentaries on Economic Issues, Other Events in Economic History

John Meriwether, formerly of Salomon Brothers, starts the process of collecting talented individuals to form a team to head a new hedge fund based on arbitrage deals surrounding government bonds. The “new” model will pull from George Soros’ Quantum fund tactics and high-level academic consultants to achieve possible gains in derivatives off fluctuations in the valuation of the government bonds. The fund will start with a $2-3 billion dollar investment fund, which, from its inception, will be managed by “some of Wall Street’s best traders and some of academia’s most influential minds.” [New York Times, 9/15/1993]

Entity Tags: Long-Term Capital Management, John Meriwether

Category Tags: Other Events in Economic History

Congress approves legislation which repeals the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, greatly reducing regulation of Wall Street and clearing the way for the cross-ownership of banks, securities firms and insurers. The measure is approved in the Senate by a vote of 90 to 8 and in the House by 362 to 57. President Bill Clinton will sign the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act into law on November 12th, 1999. [Library of Congress, 3/27/2009] The New York Times reports that passage of the bill elicits optimism that the measure will enhance American competitiveness and ensure American dominance in the global financial marketplace, as well as concerns that deregulation will lead to a future financial meltdown. The Times further notes that experts predict the new law will result in a wave of large financial mergers.
Optimism over Passage of the Measure - Treasury Secretary Lawrence H. Summers praises the legislation, declaring that the law “will better enable American companies to compete in the new economy.” Among others praising passage of the measure:
bullet Senator Phil Gramm (R-TX), sponsor of the bill, says: “We have a new century coming, and we have an opportunity to dominate that century the same way we dominated this century. Glass-Steagall, in the midst of the Great Depression, came at a time when the thinking was that the government was the answer. In this era of economic prosperity, we have decided that freedom is the answer.”
bullet Rep Jim Leach (R-IA) remarks: “This is a historic day. The landscape for delivery of financial services will now surely shift.”
bullet Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) says, “There are many reasons for this bill, but first and foremost is to ensure that US financial firms remain competitive.”
bullet Senator Bob Kerrey (D-NE) says, “The concerns that we will have a meltdown like 1929 are dramatically overblown.”
Warnings over Implications of the Measure - The measure provokes warnings from a handful of dissenters that “the deregulation of Wall Street would someday wreak havoc on the nation’s financial system,” according to the Times. Among the dissenters are:
bullet Senator Byron L. Dorgan (D-ND), who says: “I think we will look back in 10 years’ time and say we should not have done this but we did because we forgot the lessons of the past, and that that which is true in the 1930’s is true in 2010;”
bullet Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA), who remarks that the bill is “mean-spirited in the way it had tried to undermine the Community Reinvestment Act;”
bullet Senator Paul Wellstone (D-MN), who says: “Glass-Steagall was intended to protect our financial system by insulating commercial banking from other forms of risk. It was one of several stabilizers designed to keep a similar tragedy from recurring. Now Congress is about to repeal that economic stabilizer without putting any comparable safeguard in its place.” [New York Times, 11/5/1999]

Entity Tags: Clinton administration, Byron L. Dorgan, Barney Frank, Bob Kerrey, Charles Schumer, William Jefferson (“Bill”) Clinton, US Congress, Jim Leach, Phil Gramm, Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, Larry Summers, Paul Wellstone, Maxine Waters, Glass-Steagall Act

Category Tags: US Financial Deregulation, Pre-2001 Policies and Actions, Commentaries and Criticisms

According to President Bush, al-Qaeda has “targeted our economy” in the 9/11 attacks. Congress has already passed $40 billion in emergency appropriations for security and recovery, and another $15 billion in aid for the airline industry. Bush says the attacks make it paramount that his tax cut plan—largely targeted at wealthy Americans and corporations—be passed as soon as possible. “There ought to be more” tax cuts, Bush will later say, “to make sure that the consumer has got money to spend, money to spend in the short term.” [Roberts, 2008, pp. 89]

Entity Tags: George W. Bush, Al-Qaeda

Category Tags: Other Events in Economic History

TIA logo.TIA logo. [Source: Conventions (.net)]At a rally at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, surrounded by politicians and airline executives, President Bush exhorts the American public to begin flying again. The open, and unprecedented, endorsement of commercial airlines and tourist resorts by a sitting president is part of a “pro-consumption publicity blitz” launched by the White House in conjunction with the travel industry. “[O]ne of the great goals of this nation’s war [against terrorism] is to restore public confidence in the airline industry,” Bush says. “It’s to tell the traveling public: Get on board. Do your business around the country. Fly and enjoy America’s great destination spots. Get down to Disney World in Florida. Take your families and enjoy life, the way we want it to be enjoyed.” Bush’s remarks are part of a coordinated advertising campaign by the Travel Industry Association of America (TIA), which hinges on a series of “public service” television ads by Bush himself (see Early 2002). [White House, 9/27/2001; Roberts, 2008, pp. 90]

Entity Tags: George W. Bush, Travel Industry Association of America, Bush administration (43)

Category Tags: Commentaries and Criticisms, Bush Policies and Actions

At a rally in New York City, President Bush is asked whether the federal government will ask the average American to do anything else besides spend money to help battle terrorism and assist the country in recovering from the 9/11 attacks. Bush replies: “Well, I think the average American must not be afraid to travel. We opened Reagan Airport yesterday for a reason—we think it’s safe, and that people ought to feel comfortable about traveling around our country. They ought to take their kids on vacations. They ought to go to ball games.… But people ought to—listen, we ought to be aware in America—we are aware; how can you not be aware that we’ve entered into a new era. The imagery is vivid in people’s minds. But nevertheless, Americans must know that their government is doing everything we can to track down every rumor, every hint, every possible evildoer. And, therefore, Americans ought to go about their business. And they are beginning to do so. The load factors were up on the airlines, which means more people will be going to hotels and restaurants.” [White House, 10/3/2001; Roberts, 2008, pp. 91] Not only has Bush been exhorting Americans to spend their money on airline tickets and amusement parks (see September 27, 2001), he will take part in a marketing campaign designed to boost the travel industry (see Early 2002). New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani adds his voice to Bush’s, asking the rhetorical question, “What can you do to help in this crisis?” and answering, “Spend, spend, spend.” Time magazine columnist Margaret Carlson writes that while consumer spending is indeed essential to the country’s economic recovery, it “strike[s] a sour note” for Bush, Giuliani, and other leaders to tell Americans that they can best help their country by spending money on themselves. “In the aftermath of one awful moment, we’ve finally come to understand what our parents meant by a cause larger than ourselves,” she writes. “We’re hungry for a way to help the war effort, honor the dead, and help the survivors. We’re not shunning the perfect marbled steak at Morton’s for want of a tax break but because it feels wrong with planes being shot at in Afghanistan. The fact is there’s going to be no grand mobilization for which we can sacrifice. It’s not our parents’ war, with its visible monsters, quantifiable victories, and necessary sacrifices. The Greatest Generation got to save old tires, dig a Victory Garden, and forgo sugar. The Richest Generation is being asked to shop.” [Time, 10/15/2001]

Entity Tags: Rudolph (“Rudy”) Giuliani, George W. Bush, Margaret Carlson

Category Tags: Bush Policies and Actions, Commentaries and Criticisms

The Travel Industry Association of America (TIA) coordinates its effort with the Bush administration to sell America’s airlines and hotel chains to consumers after the 9/11 attacks (see September 27, 2001). According to the TIA, “Travel was also linked to patriotic duty with expressions, such as ‘A return to travel is normal. Restoring travel is restoring our country’s economy.’” President Bush, apparently unaware that sitting presidents do not normally appear in industry ad campaigns, appears in “public service” ads created by TIA. The ads are part of a $20 million advertising campaign steered by, among others, J. W. “Bill” Marriott of Marriott International, one of the world’s largest hotel chains. Marriott personally solicited Bush’s participation in the television advertisements, which run throughout the US and in a number of foreign countries for four weeks. According to TIA polls, the Bush ad campaign reaches 70 percent of Americans, and most understand it as an appeal to travel and spend money. In 2008, author and public policy professor Alasdair Reynolds will write, “Many Americans appreciated that there was something strangely out of kilter about the president’s prominent role in boosting consumption in a moment of crisis.” [Association of Travel Marketing Executives, 2002; Roberts, 2008, pp. 90]

Entity Tags: Marriott International, Alasdair Roberts, Bush administration (43), Travel Industry Association of America, George W. Bush, J. W. (“Bill”) Marriott

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline

Category Tags: Bush Policies and Actions, Commentaries and Criticisms

The Bureau of Labor Statistics announces that it will no longer publish its monthly Mass Layoffs Statistics Report, which details factory closings around the country. The administration says the reports are too costly. Labor unions say the government is attempting to conceal negative economic news. [Savage, 2007, pp. 104]

Entity Tags: US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Bush administration (43)

Category Tags: Bush Policies and Actions

The Bush administration announces that it will no longer publish an annual report that details how much money each state receives from each federal program. The announcement coincides with heavily critical reports that federal budget cuts are creating huge shortfalls in state budgets. Without the annual report, it is now much harder to track how the budget cuts affect individual states. An administration spokesman says the information is still available, albeit in “a different mode,” from individual information releases from the separate agencies, but Congressional Democrats accuse the administration of trying to hide the damages caused by the budget cuts. [Savage, 2007, pp. 104-105]

Entity Tags: Bush administration (43)

Category Tags: Bush Policies and Actions

ACORN (the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) launches a campaign to register thousands of new voters in Florida, using a referendum that would raise the state’s minimum wage as a method to drum up support. One study shows that the referendum, if enacted, would raise salaries among the working poor by $443 million. A coalition driven by ACORN registers some 210,000 new voters, mostly in urban areas, before Election Day. Opponents of the referendum—mostly business leaders and Florida Republicans—fight back by mounting an ad campaign comparing the effect of the raised minimum wage to the devastation wrought by Florida’s recent hurricanes, and labeling it a “job killer.” They also level accusations of voter fraud, accusing the coalition of filing thousands of fraudulent registrations. National and state Democrats are hesitant to embrace the referendum, even though some polls show that as many as 81 percent of Floridians support it. Presidential candidate John Kerry (D-MA) rarely mentions the referendum during his campaign swings through the state. Although Kerry loses Florida and Republicans win a majority of the Congressional elections, the referendum wins in a landslide, garnering 77 percent of the votes cast and winning in every county, including the conservative counties in the Panhandle. In 2010, author John Atlas will write, “Kerry made the fatal mistake of not publicly embracing the minimum wage ballot.” [Atlas, 2010, pp. 112-114]

Entity Tags: John Kerry, Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, John Atlas

Timeline Tags: Civil Liberties

Category Tags: Other Events in Economic History

Greece admits it joined the euro single currency in 2001 on the basis of figures that showed its budget deficit to be much lower than it really was. Eurozone states are expected to have deficits below 3 percent of gross domestic product, but revised data show Greece has exceeded that limit since 1999. Greek press reports suggest the country’s budget deficit in 1999 was 3.38 percent. The problem was discovered by Eurostat, the EU’s statistics agency, when it visited Athens last week to examine Greece’s current budget figures. Greece had already said that its public deficit breached the European Union cap between 2000 and 2003, as the cost of hosting the 2004 summer Olympics reached €7bn. But Greece’s finance ministry had claimed that the country’s 1999 deficit, on the basis of which Greece was allowed to join the euro in 2001, was below the limit. “It has been proven that Greece’s budget deficit never fell below 3 percent since 1999,” finance minister George Alogoskoufis now admits. Katinka Barysch, chief economist at the Centre for European Reform, says the announcement will not be a surprise for Brussels insiders. “Quite a few member states did something similar because of the political imperative to join the euro as soon as possible. Greece has just gone a bit further,” she says. [BBC, 11/15/2004]

Entity Tags: Eurostat, Centre for European Reform, Greece, Katinka Barysch, Giorgos Alogoskoufis

Category Tags: Greece

The White House prepares to launch a huge PR campaign to win public support for sweeping changes to Social Security, including the creation of individual accounts with the option to invest (and win or lose) in the stock market, and partial privatization of the management of social security investments. In 2008, current White House press secretary Scott McClellan will write: “It was the kind of bold domestic initiative Bush had always hoped would define his presidency. He would get it passed through a massive [public relations] campaign to bring public pressure to bear on Congress.” The first major strategy meeting to develop the White House PR campaign centers on two main foci:
bullet “Educating” the public about the economic and fiscal problems facing Social Security, the need to fix them, and creating a “crisis mentality” among the public, which, McClellan will write, “would give us a better shot at getting the necessary public support to bring about bipartisan backing for our reform plan in Congress”;
bullet Shaping the solution and ensuring that “personal retirement accounts,” as the stock accounts will be termed, are included.
The White House’s congressional liaison, David Hobbs, says: “Seventy percent of the battle is defining the problem and putting Congressional leaders on the spot. We need public pressure.” The plan is for Bush to travel around the country touting the program, specifically visiting states and districts represented by targeted members of Congress. “Bush would use the re-election hopes of those crucial swing votes in Congress as the lever with which to apply the pressure required,” McClellan later writes. McClellan will reflect that, though the marketing campaign is well thought out, the reform plan isn’t, writing: “We were spending excessive effort on selling our sketchily designed plan while skimping on other elements of the process that probably should have been at least as important. We weren’t spending much time deliberating with members of Congress to work out details of our reform plan—we were doing minimal outreach to Democrats to build the kind of consensus that would make such a dramatic change easier to pass. Instead, we were leapfrogging many of the vital steps and jumping straight to the stage in the process we found most congenial—the public relations effort.” McClellan will compare the Social Security campaign to the administration’s efforts to market the Iraq invasion, calling it “reminiscent of the way we’d short-circuited debate over the necessity for war in Iraq and chose instead to turn it into the subject of a massive marketing blitz. We used a similar approach as we planned the Social Security campaign. With Iraq, it was a threat that needed confronting, with Social Security, it was a crisis that needed solving.” [McClellan, 2008, pp. 248-249]

Entity Tags: George W. Bush, Bush administration (43), Scott McClellan, David Hobbs

Category Tags: Bush Policies and Actions

Fox News senior anchor Brit Hume and Fox analyst William Bennett both make the false claim that former President Franklin D. Roosevelt wanted to replace Social Security with private accounts. In fact, Roosevelt, who implemented Social Security, was in favor of “voluntary contributory annunities” to supplement Social Security benefits, but never proposed replacing Social Security with private money. Hume and Bennett both support President Bush’s plan to partially “privatize” Social Security; Bush himself has asserted, equally falsely, that Roosevelt supported privatization. On Fox’s political talk show Hannity and Colmes, Bennett tells viewers: “Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the guy who established Social Security, said that it would be good to have it replaced by private investment over time. Private investment would be the way to really carry this thing through.” That same evening, Hume tells his audience: “In a written statement to Congress in 1935, Roosevelt said that any Social Security plans should include, quote, ‘Voluntary contributory annuities, by which individual initiative can increase the annual amounts received in old age,’ adding that government funding, quote, ‘ought to ultimately be supplanted by self-supporting annuity plans.’” Hume fails to point out that Roosevelt was not talking about “supplant[ing]” Social Security with any “self-supporting annuity plans,” but instead was talking about a different fund that provided pension benefits to Americans too old (in 1935) to contribute payroll taxes to Social Security. In 1935, Edwin Witte, the director of the Committee on Economic Security, told Congress flatly that voluntary accounts were intended as a “separate undertaking” meant to “supplement” the compulsory system, not replace it. [Media Matters, 2/4/2005] Days before the Fox broadcasts, Roosevelt’s grandson James Roosevelt Jr., a former Social Security associate commissioner, noted that “Bush invoked the name of my grandfather… as part of his campaign to privatize Social Security,” and added, “The implication that FDR would support privatization of America’s greatest national program is an attempt to deceive the American people and an outrage.” [Boston Globe, 1/31/2005] Liberal pundit Al Franken calls on Hume to resign over his historical distortions; MSNBC host Keith Olbermann calls Hume’s statements “premeditated, historical fraud,” and Roosevelt Jr. says that “outrageous distortion… calls for a retraction, an apology, maybe even a resignation.” [Media Matters, 2/18/2005] Influential conservative blogger Glenn Reynolds will acknowledge that Roosevelt was not advocating for the privatization of Social Security, instead noting that Roosevelt’s plan “would have involved, essentially, a sort of government-supplied 401k plan.” [Glenn Reynolds, 2/4/2005]

Entity Tags: George W. Bush, Al Franken, Brit Hume, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, William J. Bennett, Fox News, Glenn Reynolds, Keith Olbermann, James Roosevelt Jr

Timeline Tags: Domestic Propaganda

Category Tags: US Financial Deregulation, Bush Policies and Actions, Commentaries and Criticisms

The center-right Greek government raises taxes on alcohol and tobacco in an effort to combat the country’s large budget deficit. The price of the cheapest pack of cigarettes will rise from €0.80 to €1.40, whereas taxes on spirits will be raised by 20 percent and the rate on ouzo will go up 10 percent. The changes are announced by Greek Minister of Finance Giorgos Alogoskoufis and will also apply to previously tax-free holiday resorts such as Rhodes. In addition, the main VAT rate will rise from 18 percent to 19 percent. Officials hope the increases will boost public revenues by €500m. The Greek budget deficit is 6.1 percent of GDP, well over the 3 percent permitted by Eurozone rules, and was increased by the massive cost of hosting the 2006 summer Olympics. Together with spending cuts, the government hopes the measures will rein in the deficit to 3.5 percent of GDP this year. According to the Greek government, the tax rises are the only way of avoiding cuts in health and education spending. [Guardian, 3/30/2010]

Entity Tags: Giorgos Alogoskoufis

Category Tags: Greece

Libertarian Representative Ron Paul (R-TX), contemplating a run for the 2008 presidential nomination, discusses the many federal programs, agencies, and bureaus he would eliminate if he had the power. He would do away with the CIA, the Federal Reserve, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the IRS, and the Department of Education, among others. He would eliminate Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. He would abolish the federal income tax (see April 28, 1999). He would zero out federal funding for public education, leaving that to local governments. Paul recently refused to vote for federal funds to aid victims of Hurricane Katrina, explaining that to do so would “rob” other Americans “in order to support the people on the coast.” He routinely votes against federal subsidies for farmers. He supports absolute gun rights, and absolutely opposes abortion, though he thinks regulations supporting or denying abortion should be left up to the states. He wants to repeal federal laws regulating drugs and allow prohibited drugs such as heroin to be sold legally. Paul says the US should withdraw from the United Nations and NATO, and wants the country to stop giving foreign aid to any country for any reason, calling such assistance “foreign welfare.” He even says President Lincoln should never have taken the nation to war to abolish slavery. Referring to the years before the income tax, Paul says: “We had a good run from 1776 to 1913. We didn’t have it; we did pretty well.” As for Social Security, “we didn’t have it until 1935,” Paul says. “I mean, do you read stories about how many people were laying in the streets and dying and didn’t have medical treatment?… Prices were low and the country was productive and families took care of themselves and churches built hospitals and there was no starvation.” Historian Michael Katz describes himself as aghast at Paul’s characterization of American life before Social Security. “Where to begin with this one?” he asks. “The stories just break your heart, the kind of suffering that people endured.… Stories of families that had literally no cash and had to kind of beg to get the most minimal forms of food, who lived in tiny, little rooms that were ill-heated and ill-ventilated, who were sick all the time, who had meager clothing.” Charles Kuffner of the Texas progressive blog Off the Kuff writes, “I can only presume that the Great Depression never occurred in whatever universe Paul inhabits.” [Washington Post, 7/9/2006; Charles Kuffner, 7/10/2006]

Entity Tags: United Nations, US Food and Drug Administration, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Ron Paul, US Department of Education, US Federal Reserve, Charles Kuffner, Central Intelligence Agency, Internal Revenue Service, Michael Katz

Timeline Tags: Domestic Propaganda, 2008 Elections

Category Tags: USA, Commentaries and Criticisms

George W. Bush.George W. Bush. [Source: Annie Leibovitz / Vanity Fair]In a news conference, President Bush says that because of the nation’s increasing economic difficulties, the year ahead will “require difficult choices and additional sacrifices.” The nation needs economic growth, and thusly he says to the American populace, “I encourage you all to go shopping more.” [Vanity Fair, 2/2009]

Entity Tags: George W. Bush

Category Tags: USA, Bush Policies and Actions, Commentaries and Criticisms

The insurance corporation AIG makes a profit for the second quarter of the year totaling $4.28 billion, a rise of 34 percent. However, when the results are published in August, AIG will not announce any writedowns in the value of subprime housing assets, even though analysts have said the company could lose as much as $3.25 billion in a worst-case scenario, and AIG’s stock closes at $66.48. [Bloomberg, 9/16/2008]

Entity Tags: AIG (American International Group, Inc.)

Category Tags: Failing Companies, USA, AIG

The profit of the insurance corporation AIG falls by 27 percent in the third quarter of 2007, to $3.09 billion. The decline is due to housing-related costs, including a $352 million fall in credit default swaps, which AIG sold to protect debt investors from losses. Despite the troubles, AIG says it is “highly unlikely” that it will be required to make payments on the derivatives. [Bloomberg, 9/16/2008]

Entity Tags: AIG (American International Group, Inc.)

Category Tags: Failing Companies, USA, AIG

Northern Rock, a large British bank specializing in mortgages, issues an upbeat set of trading results, saying the outlook for its business is “very positive.” It reveals it has sold a record volume of mortgages in the first half of 2007, up 47 percent on the same period a year before. This gives it a 19 percent share of the new mortgage market, making it the market leader in Britain. It also announces a small increase in interim profits and pledges to increase dividends by 30 percent. However, it notes that “sharp increases” in borrowing rates in the money markets are likely to make life more difficult and that changes in “interest rate and credit risk environments” will influence the size of its annual profits. [BBC, 8/5/2008]

Entity Tags: Northern Rock plc

Category Tags: Northern Rock, Britain, Failing Companies

Robert Lewis, the chief risk officer at insurance corporation AIG, says that virtually all of the company’s subprime mortgage holdings are safe unless the US housing market crashes to “depression proportions.” [Bloomberg, 9/16/2008]

Entity Tags: Robert Lewis, AIG (American International Group, Inc.)

Category Tags: Failing Companies, USA, AIG

Mervyn King, governor of the Bank of England, is first alerted to the problems at the troubled British mortgage giant Northern Rock. [Daily Telegraph, 2/26/2008] In a phone call with officials at the Financial Services Authority (FSA) and the Treasury, he is told about the potential impact of the global credit crunch on Northern Rock’s business. [BBC, 8/5/2008]

Entity Tags: Her Majesty’s Treasury, Financial Services Authority, Mervyn King, Northern Rock plc, Bank of England

Category Tags: Northern Rock, Britain, Failing Companies

Matt Ridley, a former chairman of the troubled British mortgage giant Northern Rock, asks Governor of the Bank of England Mervyn King about possible support to help Northern Rock overcome a difficult period. In addition, Ridley starts to look for a buyer for the distressed bank. [Daily Telegraph, 2/26/2008]

Entity Tags: Bank of England, Mervyn King, Matthew Ridley

Category Tags: Northern Rock, Britain, Failing Companies

British Chancellor Alistair Darling is informed of “quite substantial problems” at the troubled British mortgage giant Northern Rock. The notification comes from Sir Callum McCarthy, chairman of the Financial Services Authority. [Daily Telegraph, 2/26/2008]

Entity Tags: Alistair Darling, Financial Services Authority, Callum McCarthy

Category Tags: Northern Rock, Britain, Failing Companies

The rate at which British banks lend to each other—known as the London Interbank Offered Rate (Libor)—rises to its highest level in almost nine years. The three-month loan rate hits 6.7975 percent, which is even higher than the Bank of England’s emergency lending rate of 6.75 percent. This suggests that banks are reluctant to lend money to each other because of the emerging credit crisis. [BBC, 8/5/2008]

Category Tags: Other, Britain

Governor of the Bank of England Mervyn King writes to the Treasury Select Committee about current problems on financial markets. He tells it that the Bank will be prepared to provide emergency loans to any commercial bank that runs into short-term difficulties, provided this is because of temporary market conditions. However, he appears to rule out following the lead of the European Central Bank and US Federal Reserve in pumping huge sums into the banking system to ease problems with liquidity. [BBC, 9/13/2007; BBC, 8/5/2008]

Entity Tags: Bank of England, Mervyn King

Category Tags: Bailouts and Other Government Aid, Northern Rock, Britain, Failing Companies

News of the financial difficulties of troubled British mortgage giant Northern Rock breaks in the British media. [Daily Telegraph, 2/26/2008; BBC, 8/5/2008] The BBC reports that Northern Rock’s situation is so bad that it has asked for and been granted emergency financial support from the Bank of England, in the latter’s role as lender of last resort. BBC business editor Robert Peston says Northern Rock is not in danger of going bust and there is no reason for its customers to panic. However, he adds that “the fact it has had to go cap in hand to the Bank is the most tangible sign that the crisis in financial markets is spilling over into businesses that touch most of our lives.” [BBC, 9/13/2007]

Entity Tags: Robert Peston, Northern Rock plc

Category Tags: Northern Rock, Britain, Failing Companies

Following a report that troubled British mortgage giant Northern Rock has asked the Bank of England for emergency funding (see September 13, 2007), a run on the bank begins. [Daily Telegraph, 2/26/2008; BBC, 8/5/2008] Northern Rock issues a statement confirming the emergency funding and blaming “extreme conditions” on financial markets. The Bank, the British Treasury, and the Financial Services Authority say they believe Northern Rock is solvent and that the standby funding facility will enable it to “fund its operations during the current period of turbulence in financial markets.” However, this does not reassure savers. The share price plunges 32 percent and depositors try to withdraw their savings. Queues form outside a number of branches, the bank’s website collapses, and its phone lines are jammed. Under current British legislation, savings are only protected up to £33,000 ($66,000). [BBC, 8/5/2008]

Entity Tags: Her Majesty’s Treasury, Financial Services Authority, Northern Rock plc, Bank of England

Category Tags: Northern Rock, Britain, Failing Companies

The Bank of England tries to find a buyer for the troubled British mortgage lender Northern Rock. It holds talks with Lloyds TSB, another large British bank, about possibly buying Northern Rock, but according to reports, by September 17 these discussions founder. [BBC, 8/5/2008]

Entity Tags: Northern Rock plc, Her Majesty’s Treasury, Alistair Darling, Lloyds TSB Group

Category Tags: Northern Rock, Britain, Failing Companies

British Chancellor Alistair Darling intervenes in the crisis surrounding the troubled British mortgage giant Northern Rock. A run on the bank began three days ago (see September 14, 2007) and shows no sign of abating, as there are still queues outside a number of branches. Amid a further slide in the company’s share price and fears the run will undermine confidence in the whole banking system, Darling issues a statement saying the Treasury will guarantee all deposits held by Northern Rock. He says savers will not lose a penny and that his action is motivated by the “importance I place on maintaining a stable banking system.” The move appears to work and the queues outside branches will subside the next day. [Daily Telegraph, 2/26/2008; BBC, 8/5/2008]

Entity Tags: Alistair Darling, Her Majesty’s Treasury, Northern Rock plc

Category Tags: Bailouts and Other Government Aid, Northern Rock, Britain, Failing Companies

The Bank of England says it will inject £10 billion ($20 billion) into the money markets to try to bring down the cost of inter-bank lending. The move is prompted by the financial crisis, which has recently engulfed leading British bank Northern Rock. One week ago, Bank of England governor Mervyn King had said the Bank would not make such an injection (see September 12, 2007). [Daily Telegraph, 2/26/2008; BBC, 8/5/2008] “This represents a U-turn on support for money markets,” says Ian Kernohan, an analyst at Royal London Asset Management. He adds, “As every parent knows, it’s all very well to talk tough, but if you don’t follow up your credibility is damaged.” Calyon analyst Daragh Maher says: “Only one week ago, governor King was arguing against providing liquidity to money markets as this would risk causing greater problems further down the road. This strategy has come in for considerable criticism… [and the change announced today] will of course open it to further criticism that its earlier strategy was flawed and that this shift may be too little too late.” [Agence France-Presse, 9/19/2007]

Entity Tags: Ian Kernohan, Mervyn King, Bank of England, Daragh Maher

Category Tags: Bailouts and Other Government Aid, Britain

Governor of the Bank of England Mervyn King defends his handling of the banking crisis that has recently hit mortgage giant Northern Rock to members of parliament. Facing accusations of “being asleep at the wheel,” King says it would have been “irresponsible” to have intervened earlier to save Northern Rock. He also says that he would have liked to have offered financial support to the company in secret but that British and European regulations made this impossible. [BBC, 8/5/2008]

Entity Tags: Bank of England, Northern Rock plc, Mervyn King

Category Tags: Northern Rock, Britain, Failing Companies

Troubled British mortgage giant Northern Rock announces that it is canceling the dividend that it was due to pay shareholders in October. The dividend would have cost the bank £59 million ($118 million). In addition, the bank says that it is in preliminary talks with people who want to buy all or part of its business. [BBC, 8/5/2008]

Entity Tags: Northern Rock plc

Category Tags: Northern Rock, Britain, Failing Companies

The insurance giant AIG makes the biggest quarterly loss in its 89-year history, $5.29 billion. This is primarily due to an $11.1 billion writedown of derivatives known as credit default swaps. The loss will be announced on February 28, 2008 (see February 28, 2008). [Bloomberg, 9/16/2008]

Entity Tags: AIG (American International Group, Inc.)

Category Tags: Failing Companies, USA, AIG

British Chancellor Alistair Darling announces that the government’s scheme to protect savers with money deposited in British banks and building societies is being expanded to guarantee 100 percent of the first £35,000 ($70,000) of savings. Previously, a slightly lesser percentage of the first £33,000 a saver had on deposit was guaranteed. Darling adds that this is the first stage of a wider reform of the compensation system. [Daily Telegraph, 2/26/2008; BBC, 8/5/2008]

Entity Tags: Alistair Darling, Her Majesty’s Treasury

Category Tags: Bailouts and Other Government Aid, Britain

The British Treasury agrees to protect 100 percent of new savings deposited with distressed mortgage giant Northern Rock after September 19. The Treasury had issued a similar guarantee three weeks ago (see September 17, 2007), but that had only covered deposits made up to September 19. [BBC, 8/5/2008]

Entity Tags: Northern Rock plc, Her Majesty’s Treasury

Category Tags: Bailouts and Other Government Aid, Northern Rock, Britain, Failing Companies

The chief executive of the British Financial Services Authority, Hector Sants, tells a hearing of the Treasury Select Committee that the regulator did not expect distressed bank Northern Rock to run into trouble. He tells MPs, “In terms of the probability of this organization getting into difficulty, we had it as a low probability.” He also admits that there are “lessons to be learned” from the failed regulation of Northern Rock. [BBC, 8/5/2008]

Entity Tags: Hector Sants, Financial Services Authority

Category Tags: Northern Rock, Britain, Failing Companies

Following the announcement of poor results for the third quarter the day before (see July-September 2007), shares in the insurance corporation AIG fall to $56. Despite the problems, in a conference call the company says it is “comfortable” with businesses and investments tied to the US housing market. [Bloomberg, 9/16/2008]

Entity Tags: AIG (American International Group, Inc.)

Category Tags: Failing Companies, USA, AIG

Six days after its shares hit a 52-week low (see November 8, 2007), the insurance corporation AIG announces that it will spend $8 billion on repurchasing stock. However, this program will be halted early next year (see February 28, 2008). [Bloomberg, 9/16/2008]

Entity Tags: AIG (American International Group, Inc.)

Category Tags: Failing Companies, USA, AIG

Troubled British mortgage giant Northern Rock announces that its chief executive, Adam Applegarth, has resigned. It originally says he will step down from his post after completing a review of the bank’s operations no later than the end of January 2008. However, he will actually leave early, in the middle of December. [Daily Telegraph, 2/26/2008; BBC, 8/5/2008]

Entity Tags: Northern Rock plc, Adam Applegarth

Category Tags: Northern Rock, Britain, Failing Companies

Troubled British mortgage lender Northern Rock names a consortium headed by Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group as the preferred bidder to purchase it. The bank is up for sale because it has been hit hard by the credit crisis and requires new funding. The Virgin offer includes the immediate repayment of £11 billion ($22 billion) of the £25bn ($50 billion) Northern Rock has borrowed from the Bank of England to help it through the crisis. The remainder is to be paid over the next three years. RAB Capital, which is the second-largest shareholder in Northern Rock with a stake of about 6.7 percent, says it will oppose the move from Virgin. [Daily Telegraph, 2/26/2008; BBC, 8/5/2008]

Entity Tags: Northern Rock plc, RAB Capital plc, Virgin Group Ltd

Category Tags: Northern Rock, Britain, Failing Companies

Martin Sullivan, chief executive officer of insurance giant AIG, says writedowns the company has been forced to make on assets linked to the US housing market are “manageable.” “The effectiveness of our risk management efforts will show through in our results,” he adds, sending shares up more than 4 percent to $58.15. Joseph Cassano, head of the company unit that sells derivatives known as credit default swaps, says the value of such contracts declined by $1.1 billion in the first two months of the fourth quarter. [Bloomberg, 9/16/2008] Cassano’s statement is inaccurate, and AIG will later reveal the loss is close to $5 billion (see February 11, 2008).

Entity Tags: Martin Sullivan, AIG (American International Group, Inc.), Joseph Cassano

Category Tags: Failing Companies, USA, AIG

The Olivant group unveils its rescue proposal for the troubled British lender Northern Rock, which is up for sale because of problems it has encountered during the credit crisis. Olivant is led by Luqman Arnold, formerly head of British Abbey bank. The company says it could immediately repay up to £15 billion ($30 billion) of government money that Northern Rock has borrowed to help it through the crisis. However, Olivant will later complain about the negotiating process and will not submit a final bid. [Daily Telegraph, 2/26/2008; BBC, 8/5/2008]

Entity Tags: Luqman Arnold, Northern Rock plc, Olivant Ltd

Category Tags: Northern Rock, Britain, Failing Companies

Distressed British mortgage giant Northern Rock is dropped from the FTSE 100 index of leading London-listed blue chip shares. The move comes as part of the biggest shake-up of the index since the crash of 2001, when the “dotcom” investment bubble burst. [BBC, 8/5/2008]

Entity Tags: Northern Rock plc

Category Tags: Northern Rock, Britain, Failing Companies

SRM Global, a hedge fund that controls 9.9 percent of shares in ailing British bank Northern Rock, warns Chancellor Alistair Darling not to consider nationalizing the bank for less than a fair price. In a letter sent shortly before Christmas, SRM says it has been advised that otherwise there would be a breach of the Human Rights Act and it would have a strong case to pursue ministers through the courts. [BBC, 8/5/2008]

Entity Tags: SRM Global, Her Majesty’s Treasury, Alistair Darling, Northern Rock plc

Category Tags: Northern Rock, Britain, Failing Companies

Temasek Holdings, an arm of Singapore’s government, buys a large stake in the troubled US financial services company Merrill Lynch. It pays $48 per share, 13 percent less than the market value, and spends a total of $4.4bn. It also has an option to purchase a further $600m worth of shares by the end of March 2008, but agrees not to sell for a year. The asset manager Davis Selected Holdings also takes a smaller stake in Merrill Lynch. The shares purchased are newly issued, meaning the existing stockholders’ influence is diluted. However, the company needs the extra cash in order to cope with its losses on the subprime mortgage market. [Reuters, 12/25/2007] However, Merrill Lynch will sell more new shares for a lower price a few months later. This activates a clause in the agreement with Temasek saying it is entitled to a discount, totaling around 50 percent on the price of the shares sold in December 2007. Temasek reinvests this discount in additional Merrill Lynch shares (see July 29, 2008). [Agency France-Presse, 9/15/2008]

Entity Tags: Merrill Lynch, Davis Selected Advisers, Temasek Holdings

Category Tags: Western Purchases by Asians, USA

Insurance giant AIG makes a loss of $7.81 billion for the first quarter of 2008. In the previous quarter, it had lost over $5 billion, which at that time was its worst ever result (see October-December 2007). The loss will be announced in May (see May 8, 2008). [Bloomberg, 9/16/2008]

Entity Tags: AIG (American International Group, Inc.)

Category Tags: Failing Companies, USA, AIG

British Chancellor Alistair Darling tells the Financial Times that he is planning to give the Financial Services Authority (FSA) more power to deal with failing banks to avoid another crisis like the one that has engulfed Northern Rock (see September 14, 2007). He proposes giving the FSA the power to seize and protect customers’ cash if a bank gets into difficulties. [BBC, 8/5/2008]

Entity Tags: Alistair Darling, Her Majesty’s Treasury, Financial Services Authority

Category Tags: Other, Britain

Troubled British mortgage giant Northern Rock agrees to sell £2.2 billion (about $4.4 billion) of its mortgage assets to US investment bank JP Morgan. The assets represent about 2 percent of its mortgage portfolio and the price represents a 2.25 percent premium on the assets’ value. Northern Rock says it will use the funds to pay back some of the £25 billion ($50 billion) in emergency loans it has been given by the Bank of England to help it through the financial crisis. [BBC, 8/5/2008]

Entity Tags: JP Morgan Chase, Northern Rock plc

Category Tags: Northern Rock, Britain, Failing Companies

The British Treasury signs Ron Sandler, an experienced banker, to head ailing mortgage giant Northern Rock in the event of its nationalization, according to media reports. [Daily Telegraph, 2/26/2008] Commercial companies are currently finalizing bids in an attempt to keep the bank private, but it will be nationalized the next month and Sandler will be appointed to run it. [BBC, 8/5/2008]

Entity Tags: Northern Rock plc, Her Majesty’s Treasury, Ron Sandler

Category Tags: Northern Rock, Britain, Failing Companies

At a meeting with management, the largest two shareholders in the troubled British mortgage lender Northern Rock—hedge funds RAB Capital and SRM Global—put forward a proposal that will stop the bank’s management negotiating its sale without consent from its shareholders. The bank needs to be sold to a new owner because of problems it has encountered during the credit crisis, and both major shareholders are worried they will not get much for their holdings (see November 26, 2007 and Shortly Before December 25, 2007). However, the bank’s management argues that the proposal should be rejected, as it would make a sale harder, and the other shareholders follow their lead, opening the way for the bank to be sold. [BBC, 8/5/2008]

Entity Tags: SRM Global, RAB Capital plc, Northern Rock plc

Category Tags: Northern Rock, Britain, Failing Companies

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown confirms that talks are taking place to secure a private sale of ailing mortgage bank Northern Rock. However, he also says he has not ruled out the possibility of nationalizing the bank. [BBC, 8/5/2008]

Entity Tags: Northern Rock plc, Gordon Brown

Category Tags: Northern Rock, Britain, Failing Companies

British Chancellor Alistair Darling announces a plan to sell government-guaranteed bonds worth about £25 billion ($50 billion) to help the sale of stricken mortgage giant Northern Rock to a private investor. The proceeds from the sale of the bonds would be used to pay off emergency loans the bank has taken out from the Bank of England. The British treasury thinks the bonds would speed up a private sale of the troubled lender. Although Northern Rock shares rise by about 42 percent on the news, the bank will be nationalized the next month and the bonds will not be issued. [Daily Telegraph, 2/26/2008; BBC, 8/5/2008]

Entity Tags: Alistair Darling, Her Majesty’s Treasury, Northern Rock plc

Category Tags: Northern Rock, Britain, Failing Companies

The House of Commons’ Treasury Select Committee says that Britain’s Financial Services Authority (FSA) was guilty of a “systematic failure of duty” over the crisis at stricken mortgage giant Northern Rock. MPs say the financial watchdog should have spotted the bank’s “reckless” business plan. In addition, they call for the Bank of England to appoint a head of financial stability. The FSA says it has already admitted failings in relation to Northern Rock and insists it is “addressing” them. [BBC, 8/5/2008]

Entity Tags: Financial Services Authority, Treasury Select Committee, Northern Rock plc

Category Tags: Northern Rock, Britain, Failing Companies

Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group submits a bid to take over the ailing British mortgage giant Northern Rock. Another bid is submitted by the bank’s own board of directors. These are the only two bids submitted by the deadline, as all the other potential buyers have already dropped out. [Daily Telegraph, 2/26/2008; BBC, 8/5/2008] Under the terms of its rescue plan, Virgin would inject £1.25 billion (about $2.5 billion) into the bank and take a stake of 55 percent in it. The bank would be rebranded as Virgin Money. Northern Rock’s managers say their proposal—which gained shareholder backing—includes raising at least £500 million (about $1 billion), reducing the assets on the bank’s balance sheet, and reorganizing its operations. The managers criticize Virgin’s bid over the job cuts it entails, although Virgin says they are needed in order to rapidly repay the government money propping the bank up. [BBC, 8/5/2008]

Entity Tags: Northern Rock plc, Virgin Group Ltd

Category Tags: Northern Rock, Britain, Failing Companies

The British Office for National Statistics decides that £100 billion (about $200 billion) of debt owed by ailing mortgage giant Northern Rock will appear on government accounts, because of the government’s bailout of the bank. The move means the government may be at risk of breaking its rule to keep net debt below 40 percent of national income. The office stresses that the statistical change to public status should not be confused with nationalization, although the bank will actually be nationalized within days. [Daily Telegraph, 2/26/2008; BBC, 8/5/2008]

Entity Tags: Office for National Statistics, Northern Rock plc

Category Tags: Northern Rock, Britain, Failing Companies

The insurance corporation AIG submits a regulatory filing showing that its credit default swaps have declined four times more than previously announced (see December 5, 2007): by $4.88 billion in October and November of 2007. It also shows that AIG’s auditors have found a “material weakness” in the firm’s accounting for the contracts, and AIG does not know what they were worth at the end of 2007. The news means AIG shares suffer the worst one-day decline in two decades, falling 12 percent to $44.74. [Bloomberg, 9/16/2008]

Entity Tags: AIG (American International Group, Inc.)

Category Tags: Failing Companies, USA, AIG

The British Treasury says that it does not like either of two bids recently submitted for stricken lender Northern Rock (see February 4, 2008). The bank is being propped up by government loans and could be sold to a private buyer so that the government can get its money back. However, the Treasury is not satisfied with the bids and sees nationalization as a better outcome for the taxpayer. One of the consortia, led by Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, is told that it is the front-runner to take control of the bank. The Treasury urges both Virgin and its rival bidder to offer more. [BBC, 8/5/2008]

Entity Tags: Virgin Group Ltd, Her Majesty’s Treasury, Northern Rock plc

Category Tags: Northern Rock, Britain, Failing Companies

The Washington Post publishes an editorial by New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, accusing the Bush administration of protecting predatory lenders from state officials through use of the federal Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC). Spitzer notes that since the OCC’s founding in the 1860s, its function was to monitor the records of national banks and ensure they were balanced. Yet as the current crisis in predatory lending became acute, the OCC used a clause from the 1863 National Bank Act to make all state predatory lending laws inert. In addition, Spitzer asserts that the OCC created new rules making it impossible for state officials to employ their own consumer protection laws against national banks. Spitzer continues to note that when he opened an investigation of the mortgage lending practices of several banks, the OCC brought a federal lawsuit to prevent the inquiry from moving forward. “When history tells the story of the subprime lending crisis and recounts its devastating effects on the lives of so many innocent homeowners,” Spitzer concludes, “the Bush administration… will be judged as a willing accomplice to the lenders who went to any lengths in their quest for profits.” [Washington Post, 2/14/2008]

Entity Tags: Eliot Spitzer, Bush administration (43)

Category Tags: USA, Bush Policies and Actions, Commentaries and Criticisms

British Chancellor Alistair Darling rejects two bids to keep troubled lender Northern Rock in private hands and says the bank will be nationalized. Darling says that both bids would require a “very significant implicit subsidy” from the taxpayer, so the bank is to be placed into a “temporary period of public ownership.” Ron Sandler, a banking executive sounded out by the government in advance (see January 12, 2008), is placed in charge of the now state-owned bank. [Daily Telegraph, 2/26/2008; BBC, 8/5/2008] Shares in Northern Rock are suspended from trading the next day. Darling says the nationalized bank will operate “at arm’s length” from the government. Prime Minister Gordon Brown says the decision to nationalize is “the right move at the right time” and is one which “protects savers” and is in “the best interests of taxpayers.” Conservative Party shadow chancellor George Osborne tells MPs that Darling “is a dead man walking” and Conservative leader David Cameron demands Darling be fired over his handling of the nationalization. Sandler says it will take years for the bank to pay back its loans from the taxpayer, but declines to comment on potential job losses. [BBC, 8/5/2008]

Entity Tags: George Osborne, David Cameron, Ron Sandler, Her Majesty’s Treasury, Gordon Brown, Alistair Darling, Northern Rock plc

Category Tags: Failing Companies, Northern Rock, Britain

The British financial website “This is Money” warns about the stability of the Kaupthing Edge banking product. Kaupthing Edge is a brand used to attract depositors by the Icelandic Kaupthing Bank. In response to a reader’s question about the brand’s soundness, correspondent Alan O’Sullivan points out that the rating agency Moody’s has recently described Icelandic banks as “fragile” and that its borrowing costs have increased 400% in the last year. For this reason, analysts think it is far more likely to default than any other European bank. As a result, O’Sullivan recommends that savers do not maintain balances on accounts with the bank in excess of the maximum limit on deposit insurance. [This is Money, 2/22/2008] Kaupthing Bank will collapse seven and a half months later. [Reuters, 10/9/2008]

Entity Tags: Kaupthing Edge, Alan O’Sullivan, This is Money, Kaupthing Bank

Category Tags: Commentaries on Economic Issues, Iceland

Following the announcement of a major loss for the fourth quarter of 2007 (see October-December 2007), the insurance corporation AIG halts a program to buy back shares it announced the previous year (see November 14, 2007). In addition, the loss prompts AIG to say for the first time that realized losses in derivatives known as credit default swaps could affect operations during a quarter. [Bloomberg, 9/16/2008]

Entity Tags: AIG (American International Group, Inc.)

Category Tags: Failing Companies, USA, AIG

Joseph Cassano, head of the financial products unit at troubled insurance giant AIG, will leave the company, Chief Executive Officer Martin Sullivan says in a statement. Cassano’s unit was responsible for a recently announced $11.1 billion writedown due to credit default swaps (see October-December 2007), and he is stepping down with the company’s consent. Cassano had co-founded the unit in 1987 and built it into a business providing guarantees on more than $500 billion of assets at the end of 2007, including $61.4 billion in securities tied to subprime mortgages. At the same time, AIG says it has $14.5 billion to $19.5 billion in “excess capital.” [Bloomberg, 9/16/2008]

Entity Tags: Martin Sullivan, Joseph Cassano, AIG (American International Group, Inc.)

Category Tags: Failing Companies, USA, AIG

To assist in the merger of Bear Stearns Companies, Inc. and JP Morgan Chase & Co., the US Federal Reserve authorizes the New York Fed to form Maiden Lane LLC, a Delaware limited liability company. Once established, Maiden Lane is extended credit by the Fed to acquire certain Bear Stearns assets. Maiden Lane funds the purchase of the Bear Stearns asset portfolio of mortgage related securities, residential and commercial mortgage loans, and associated hedges through senior and subordinate loans of approximately $29 billion from the New York Fed, and a much smaller amount, approximately $1.15 billion, from JP Morgan Chase. As of March 14, 2008, the asset portfolio has an estimated fair value of approximately $30 billion. [Federal Reserve Bank of New York, 3/2008]

Entity Tags: US Federal Reserve, Bear Stearns, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Maiden Lane, JP Morgan Chase

Category Tags: Bailouts and Other Government Aid, USA

The United States Federal Reserve has lent Wall Street’s largest investment bank billions of dollars, as the credit crisis threatens to spiral into a full-blown banking crisis. In developments currently rocking the world’s financial markets, the Fed and rival Wall Street bank, JP Morgan Chase, are funneling emergency loans to Bear Stearns, whose exposure to battered credit markets has led to a crisis of confidence in its ability to continue trading. In accelerating numbers, clients and trading partners are pulling business from Bear Stearns, after rumors of its solvency began circulating. During a last-minute conference call with investors, management at the investment bank warned that its emergency lending facility with the Federal Reserve has failed to staunch the bleeding. “We have been subject to a significant amount of rumor and innuendo in the past week,” says Bear Stearns chief executive Alan Schwartz. “We attempted to provide some facts but, in the market environment, the rumors intensified and a lot of people wanted to act to protect themselves first from the possibility that the rumors were true, and wait till later for the facts.” Bear Stearns appears most fragile of Wall Street’s major investment banks, since the July 2007 collapse of two internal hedge funds, providing initial clues about the scale of the unfolding credit crisis. Shares across the banking sector plunge as analysts fear that the Fed’s willingness to intervene suggests that Bear’s future is pivotal to the banking system, and that its failure precipitates losses that may cascade through its trading partners. Bear Stearns stocks are in freefall, closing down 47 percent. Pierre Ellis at New York’s Decision Economics said, “Clearly the Fed is addressing what they feel is a systemic risk very aggressively.” [Belfast Telegraph, 3/15/2008]

Entity Tags: US Federal Reserve, Alan Schwartz, Bear Stearns, JP Morgan Chase, Pierre Ellis

Category Tags: Bailouts and Other Government Aid, USA

Recently nationalized British bank Northern Rock says it will cut about 2,000 jobs and reduce its residential mortgage lending by half. The job cuts, which account for about a third of its staff, will be made by 2011 under plans to turn around the ailing bank’s fortunes. The staff unions strongly protest the move. [BBC, 8/5/2008]

Entity Tags: Northern Rock plc

Category Tags: Northern Rock, Britain, Failing Companies

The British Financial Services Authority (FSA) admits failures in its supervision of recently nationalized mortgage giant Northern Rock. The FSA admits it is guilty of “a lack of adequate oversight and review” of the troubled bank, adding that too few regulators were assigned to monitor it. However, the FSA argues it should continue to have responsibility for regulating the banking system and says it will overhaul its procedures as a result of the weaknesses identified. [BBC, 8/5/2008]

Entity Tags: Northern Rock plc, Financial Services Authority

Category Tags: Northern Rock, Britain, Failing Companies

The recently nationalized British bank Northern Rock publishes its results for 2007, showing a pre-tax loss of £167.6 million (about $335 million). The bank also says it will be “significantly loss-making” in 2008, but pledges to repay its £25 billion (about $50 billion) loan from the Bank of England by 2010. In addition, it reveals that former chief executive Adam Applegarth (see November 16, 2007) will get severance payments totaling £785,000 (about $1,570,000). [BBC, 8/5/2008]

Entity Tags: Northern Rock plc, Adam Applegarth

Category Tags: Northern Rock, Britain, Failing Companies

AIG makes a quarterly loss of $5.36 billion. This is its third such loss in a row, but is lower than the previous quarter’s loss (see January-March 2008). The loss will be announced on August 6. [Bloomberg, 9/16/2008]

Entity Tags: AIG (American International Group, Inc.)

Category Tags: Failing Companies, USA, AIG

The European Union (EU) says it will launch a full investigation into the British government’s nationalization and bailout of troubled mortgage lender Northern Rock. Under EU rules, public support can be allowed to stop firms from going bankrupt, but long-term government aid that is seen to undermine competition is not permitted. [BBC, 8/5/2008]

Entity Tags: European Union, Northern Rock plc

Category Tags: Northern Rock, Britain, Failing Companies

May 2008: Jobless Rate Rises in 48 States

Unemployment rates in several states rise to their highest levels since 1976. The states are California, Nevada, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Florida, and Georgia. There is also a year-on-year increase in unemployment in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. As in all prior months, Michigan leads the nation with 14.1 percent, up from 12.9 percent in April; Oregon is second with 12.4 percent, up four-tenths of a percent from the previous month. Thirteen other states post rates above 10 percent. In recent months, the manufacturing sectors in Michigan and Rhode Island have been decimated, and Chrysler and GM plant closings in early May are particularly devastating to Michigan. Only Vermont has no change in its rate, while Nebraska’s rate decreases 0.1 of a percentage point to 4.4 percent. Both Nebraska and North Dakota tie for lowest unemployment rates while, nationally, the unemployment rate hits a 26-year high as it rises to 9.4 percent, from 8.9 percent in April. The highest regional jobless rate of 10.1 percent is reported in the West, followed by the Midwest at 9.8 percent. Not since September 1983, when the Midwest posted a 10.1 percent rate, has any region recorded a rate of 10 percent or more. The Pacific and South Atlantic regions also post record highs in May. [CNN News, 6/19/2009]

Category Tags: USA, Bush Policies and Actions

Shareholders in the recently nationalized British bank Northern Rock launch a court challenge over compensation they are due to receive from the government. The UK Shareholders Association submits an application for a legal review into the terms of the bank’s nationalization. According to the association, about 7,000 shareholders back the action. [BBC, 8/5/2008]

Entity Tags: Northern Rock plc, UK Shareholders Association

Category Tags: Northern Rock, Britain, Failing Companies

After announcing another record loss for the first quarter of 2008 (see January-March 2008), insurance giant AIG says it needs to raise $12.5 billion to protect against further possible writedowns due to problematic investments related to the US housing market. In addition, Standard and Poor’s and Fitch Ratings cut AIG’s credit rating after it announces the loss and the fact that it made more than $15 billion in first-quarter writedowns tied to credit default swaps and mortgage-backed securities. [Bloomberg, 9/16/2008]

Entity Tags: AIG (American International Group, Inc.)

Category Tags: Failing Companies, USA, AIG

State-owned British lender Northern Rock says that mortgages in arrears for at least three months have increased significantly over the last four months. On April 30 they accounted for 0.95 percent of its total lending, whereas on December 31 of the previous year they were only 0.57 percent of lending. The bank also says the British mortgage market remains “uncertain.” [BBC, 8/5/2008]

Entity Tags: Northern Rock plc

Category Tags: Northern Rock, Britain, Failing Companies

Maurice Greenberg, a former long-time chief executive officer of insurance giant AIG, says in a regulatory filing that the insurer is in “crisis.” This is because its shareholders have lost about $80 billion in the past year. [Bloomberg, 9/16/2008]

Entity Tags: Maurice Greenberg, AIG (American International Group, Inc.)

Category Tags: Failing Companies, USA, AIG

At the annual shareholder meeting of the insurance giant AIG, Chief Executive Officer Martin Sullivan says he is “not discouraged,” despite the fact that the company has posted successive losses (see October-December 2007 and January-March 2008). Company chairman Robert Willumstad says the directors support the management, adding, “We think Martin’s the right guy.” Shares close at $39.44, a 46 percent drop over the past year. [Bloomberg, 9/16/2008]

Entity Tags: Robert Willumstad, Martin Sullivan, AIG (American International Group, Inc.)

Category Tags: Failing Companies, USA, AIG

Martin Sullivan, chief executive officer of insurance giant AIG, says the company needs to raise a total of $20 billion to cover potential losses related to credit default swaps. Sullivan made a similar announcement two weeks earlier, but the potential problem was substantially lower then (see May 8, 2008). Shares fall to their lowest level since 1998, closing at $38.12. [Bloomberg, 9/16/2008]

Entity Tags: Martin Sullivan, AIG (American International Group, Inc.)

Category Tags: Failing Companies, USA, AIG

June 6, 2008: AIG Announces Regulatory Probe

Insurance corporation AIG says the US Securities and Exchange Commission and the Justice Department are probing the way it valued derivatives known as credit default swaps. AIG recently announced that it was having problems valuing the derivatives (see February 11, 2008). The company says it is cooperating with regulators, but shares in it fall 6.8 percent to $33.93. [Bloomberg, 9/16/2008]

Entity Tags: US Department of Justice, US Securities and Exchange Commission, AIG (American International Group, Inc.)

Category Tags: Failing Companies, USA, AIG

Conservative radio host Michael Savage says that homeless Americans should be put in “work camps.” As documented by progressive media watchdog organization Media Matters, Savage, answering a caller’s question about how he would address the “problem with the homelessness in this country,” says: “Why not put them in work camps? Most of them are able-bodied.” When the caller asks, “How much do you plan on paying them in these work camps, sir?” Savage responds, “Well, since they’re already receiving public assistance, I’d pay them nothing.” He continues: “Why do you have to pay a man who’s right now living off the fat of the land? And he’s sucking the fat of the land for, you know, a fairly small check—it is true—but he is a leech. He is not a productive member of society. Where is the money supposed to come from? No, I’ve studied the homeless problem for many years, Ed, because I live in one of the most infested cities in the United States—San Francisco—and I’ve observed the bums for many years. And the good—the largest portion of them are able-bodied. They’re drug addicts or alcoholics. There’s no reason they could not be put into work camps and do much of the labor that our illegal aliens are doing. Now, who do you think did this labor in previous generations? It was ne’er-do-wells, who today are basically able to live on the fat of the land and then drink or use drugs because they’re getting a check for nothing. In the old days, they’d pick the crops and they would spend their money on alcohol.” [Media Matters, 6/9/2008]

Entity Tags: Michael Savage, Media Matters

Timeline Tags: Domestic Propaganda

Category Tags: USA, Commentaries and Criticisms

June 15, 2008: AIG Boss Replaced

Martin Sullivan, chief executive officer of troubled insurance giant AIG, is fired and replaced by Robert Willumstad, formerly chairman of the company’s board of directors. Board member Stephen Bollenbach is also named lead independent director. The next day, Willumstad says “there will be no sacred cows” as he launches a companywide review of AIG’s operations. [Bloomberg, 9/16/2008] However, he will only remain in the position for three months (see September 18, 2008).

Entity Tags: AIG (American International Group, Inc.), Martin Sullivan, Robert Willumstad, Stephen Bollenbach

Category Tags: Failing Companies, USA, AIG

The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) predicts “a full-fledged crash in global stock and credit markets over the next three months as inflation paralyzes the major central banks.” RBS credit strategist Bob Janjuah says, “A very nasty period is soon to be upon us—be prepared.” Bolstering Janjuah’s dire predictions, the RBS bank research team warns that the Wall Street equities index, Standard & Poor’s (S&P) 500 index is likely to fall by more than 300 points to around 1050 by September as “all the chickens come home to roost” from what the Daily Telegraph describes as “the excesses of the global boom, with contagion spreading across Europe and emerging markets. Such a slide on world [markets] would amount to one of the worst bear markets over the last century.” Janjuah also warned of the credit crisis in 2007. RBS predicts that Wall Street would rally a little in early July before quickly fizzling out. “Globalization was always going to risk putting G7 bankers into a dangerous corner at some point. We have got to that point,” Janjuah says. RBS debt market chief Kit Jukes says Europe will not be immune from the problems: “Economic weakness is spreading and the latest data on consumer demand and confidence are dire.” [Daily Telegraph, 6/19/2008]

Entity Tags: Bob Janjuah, Royal Bank of Scotland, Kit Jukes

Category Tags: Britain, Commentaries on Economic Issues

The leading British bank Barclays announces that it will issue new shares worth £4.5bn (about $9bn) to bolster its finances, which have been hit by losses on US mortgage-backed securities. Much of the new money will come from Asian investors, led by the state-run Qatar Investment Authority (QIA). The Qataris will invest £1.7bn (about $3.4bn), taking a 7.7 percent stake. [BBC, 6/25/2008] The QIA’s holding company is chaired by Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jabr Al-Thani, Qatar’s prime minister, who is to invest another £533m (about $1bn) privately through a company named Challenger. [Daily Telegraph, 6/27/2008] The Japanese bank Sumitomo Mitsui will invest £500m (about $1bn) and existing shareholders are also to buy more shares. The China Development Bank will buy another £136m (about $270m) of shares, and the Singaporean investment fund Temasek will buy another £200m (about $390m) of them. [BBC, 6/25/2008]

Entity Tags: Barclays Bank, Qatar Investment Authority, China Development Bank, Temasek Holdings, Sumitomo Mitsui, Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jabr Al-Thani, Challenger

Category Tags: Western Purchases by Asians, Britain

Troubled insurance giant AIG makes a record quarterly loss of $24.47 billion. The loss is caused by writedowns on assets linked to subprime mortgages and capital losses. This is the worst loss it has ever made, coming hard on the heels of losses in the previous three quarters (see October-December 2007, January-March 2008, and April-June 2008). Over the four quarters, the combined loss totals $42.5 billion. The company will be in such bad shape that the government has to take it over by the end of the quarter (see September 16, 2008). The loss will be announced on November 10 (see November 10, 2008). [Reuters, 4/17/2009]

Entity Tags: AIG (American International Group, Inc.)

Category Tags: Failing Companies, USA, AIG

Recently nationalized British bank Northern Rock announces that its chief executive, Andy Kuipers, will leave the bank at the end of August 2008. Kuipers is the final member of its original board to leave the bank after the crisis that led to its nationalization. Northern Rock appoints the vice chairman of Barclays Bank, Gary Hoffman, as its new chief executive. [BBC, 8/5/2008]

Entity Tags: Northern Rock plc, Gary Hoffman, Andy Kuipers

Category Tags: Northern Rock, Britain, Failing Companies

Temasek, an arm of the government of Singapore, increases its stake in troubled US financial services company Merrill Lynch. It had previously paid $5bn for new shares in the company (see December 25, 2007), but is now entitled to a discount on this totaling $2.5bn. It spends the discount returned to it by Merrill Lynch and an additional $900m on more shares in the company. Temasek pays around $24 per share, half of what it paid in December 2007. [Agency France-Presse, 9/15/2008; Bloomberg, 9/15/2008]

Entity Tags: Merrill Lynch, Temasek Holdings

Category Tags: Western Purchases by Asians, USA

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