The Bush administration and the Federal Reserve announced on November 25 almost $800 billion dollars in additional funds to help, bail out, or otherwise prop up the financial sector, bringing to nearly $7 trillion the total sum that the federal government has thus far spent or pledged to spend in its feckless efforts to spare America's largest corporations from insolvency. Included in the latest package is $200 billion for the purchase of securities backed by many different kinds of loans, including student, credit card, auto, and small business. Such loans have become much harder to obtain in recent months, and the Fed's action is intended to get credit in these areas moving again.
The pleading for a financial bailout of the U.S. auto industry is becoming more widespread and insistent. Governors from Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio, Delaware, New York, and South Dakota have added their voices to those of auto executives urging U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke to share with automakers some of the $700 billion earmarked for Wall Street. They claim that Detroit's Big Three (General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler) are too big to fail, since one out of every 10 jobs in America depends on the auto industry. In addition to the hundreds of thousands employed directly by the automakers, millions more work in the industries that supply steel, aluminum, copper, plastics, rubber, and electronics to them.
By now everyone knows that Congress and the White House approved an enormous $700-plus billion package a short time ago and that the Treasury Department is rapidly burning through that mountainous sum and asking for more. What wasn't known until the past few days is that the Federal Reserve has been "lending" hundreds of billions of additional dollars to troubled companies and institutions. In fact, the Fed may have already dished out nearly $2 trillion!
It's no surprise that U.S. automakers are in trouble. Facing massive costs for health insurance, falling demand for mainstay products like trucks and SUVs, and skittish consumers worried about the economy, the Big Three face an uncertain future.
On October 28, as the Treasury Department announced a series of steps to begin delivering infusions of a $250 billion government bank-recapitalization plan, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino used carrot-and-stick language to convince the nation’s banks to lend more money.
In its latest desperate move to head off the inevitable recession, the Federal Reserve announced Tuesday the creation of another new facility, the Money Market Investor Funding Facility, which will provide up to $540 billion dollars in new funds to back the purchase of short-term debt from money market mutual funds. Much of the debt, all of which will expire in three months or less, will consist of CDs and commercial paper.
In what is unabashedly being called a "partial nationalization" of the U.S. banking industry, the Bush administration announced Tuesday morning that the federal government will be purchasing $250 billion worth of preferred stocks in all of the nation's nine largest banks. Ostensibly to avoid any appearance of bias, healthy and ailing institutions alike are being forced to submit to the program, the first of what will surely be a train of dictatorial moves by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, who has been granted unconstitutional plenary authority over the entire financial sector as a result of the recent bailout bill.
Triple-digit losses on the Dow are becoming a commonplace, but there are now ominous signs that the financial crisis of 2008 is entering a new and possibly more devastating phase. Thursday, October 9, saw the Dow plummet another 670 points, well below 9000 to a new five-year low. The latest catalyst for market decline is the likelihood that GM and possibly other automakers may soon be facing bankruptcy.