THE TOP 10 – WORSE BAILOUT BOONDOOGLES TODATE

The 10 worst bailout boondoggles

Wall Street titans that have taken taxpayer cash are squandering money on spa retreats, golden parachutes and more. Weren’t the huge bailouts supposed to be spent on saving the economy?

By Michael BrushSo far, the Treasury Department has injected more than $250 billion into the U.S. financial sector.

But precious little has come back out in the form of loans that were supposed to help get the economy going again.

In the meantime, banks have been anything but shy about using billions of dollars for other purposes, many of which seem to have little to do with getting the U.S. economy rolling. Top bailout recipients have spent billions on everything from purchases of foreign companies to extravagant spa retreats and from exorbitant golden parachutes and executive pay packages to CEO use of corporate jets for private trips.

So we did a little monitoring ourselves, with the help of BailoutSleuth.com and other Web sites. Here’s what we found.

Pay to play

Citi Field © Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Millionaire players on the New York Mets and the Manchester United soccer team should be slapping high-fives over the government bailouts. The reason: The money is helping to pay their salaries. Without $45 billion in government help and a $306 billion backstop on its portfolio of rotten mortgage-backed securities, Citigroup would likely have disappeared. If so, the bank would have reneged on a $400 million, 20-year deal to name the new Mets stadium “Citi Field.” Now, one New York pol quipped, “Citi-Taxpayer Field” might be a better name. And thanks to $144 billion in bailout money, AIG can make good on the $47 million it had agreed to pay for the right to plaster its logo on Manchester United soccer jerseys for the next 18 months. Glory, glory, Man United. AIG says it won’t renew the contract and has eliminated other sports sponsorships.

Empire building

Top bailout recipients Many banks are playing “Let’s Make a Deal” and building empires with bailout money, instead of using it to make loans that help the economy. Shortly after PNC Financial Services got a $7.7 billion cash injection, it announced a buyout of National City. BB&T and Zions Bancorporation have said they have the urge to merge — now that they’ve collectively pocketed $4.5 billion in bailout funds. Bigger banks mean less competition and higher fees for the taxpayers who helped fund these deals. And the mergers have created more banks that are “too big to fail” — so when they come back for more money, it’ll be even harder to say no. BB&T says it would buy only “problem” banks, in the spirit of the bailout program.

Golden parachutes for failure

National City Bank © Aaron Josefczyk/Reuters/Landov Cleveland’s National City bank was run so badly that it was virtually ruined, mainly by imprudent exposure to subprime mortgages. Management’s reward for creating this colossal disaster: $200 million in golden parachutes. And taxpayers will get fleeced a second time. Because of a last-minute change in tax rules, PNC Financial Services, which bought National City, will get about $725 million in income-tax credits. Those credits stem from the $19.9 billion PNC expects to lose on bad loans made by National City.

A bailout for China?

Kenneth Lewis © Roger L. Wollenberg/UPI/Landov, Michael Lewis/CorbisU.S. taxpayers were told the $700 billion financial-system bailout would create jobs by helping the economy. Instead, one of the banks getting the most bailout money is plowing tens of billions of dollars into foreign companies. Bank of America, which will get $25 billion in bailout loans, recently spent about $7 billion to double its stake in state-owned China Construction Bank. B of A, whose CEO is Kenneth Lewis (pictured above), says it would’ve spent the money even without a cash infusion from the feds.
[The Bank Of China owns a significant amount of stock in Bank of America]

AIG’s $440,000 post-bailout party

St. Regis  Resort © age fotostock/SuperStockWhile taxpayers were still absorbing the shock of having to foot an $85 billion bill (a tab that later grew to $144 billion) to bail out American International Group, executives at the insurer headed straight for the exclusive St. Regis resort in Southern California just days after their company got the money. The $440,000 tab for their eight-day stay at the Tuscan-style resort included $150,000 for meals, $23,000 in spa charges and $7,000 for golf outings. AIG says the event was held mainly to reward performance of independent insurance agents and brokers who were not company employees.

How gold is my parachute?

Peter Kraus © Jin Lee/Bloomberg News/Landov   Peter Kraus joined Merrill Lynch in early September to head up its strategy team. But Bank of America, bolstered by $25 billion in bailout money, won shareholder approval this month to take over Merrill. The deal will trigger a golden-parachute clause in Kraus’ contract, allowing him to pocket as much as $25 million for his two months on the job, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Pay to fail

AIG © Everett Kennedey Brown/epa/CorbisShould taxpayers pay to keep executives who steered a company into a ditch? American International Group thinks so. It recently agreed to pay retention bonuses to 130 executives, including $3 million for Jay Wintrob, who heads the division that sells annuities. Last year, he earned $2.5 million in salary, bonus, stock and options. Other AIG execs will get more than $500,000, or about 200% of their salaries, to stay through 2009, according to Bloomberg. The insurer had previously promised to forgo bonus payouts as part of the bailout plan. AIG says retention bonuses are needed to keep execs from leaving while it restructures and that departures could cause the company’s reinsurers to cancel contracts.

Extravagant pay

Richard Fairbank © Michael Temchine/The New York Times/WpNAs millions of Americans learn what it’s like to make ends meet on unemployment insurance, executives at banks getting taxpayer bailouts will continue to live the high life. Capital One Financial CEO Richard Fairbanks (pictured above) got $73.1 million in pay last year, according to The Corporate Library. That’s 1,456 times the median household income of $50,233 earned by taxpayers footing the bill for Capital One’s $3.55 billion federal bailout. Bank of America chief Kenneth Lewis last year took home $23 million, or 458 times the income earned by taxpayers covering his bank’s $25 billion bailout. Both CEOs also make way more than the median of $8.85 million for CEOs at S&P 500 companies. Despite having to lean on taxpayers with modest incomes for help, both CEOs will likely continue to earn stratospheric pay. Neither bank has indicated it plans to cut CEO pay.

Free use of a corporate jet for personal travel

James Dimon and John Mack © Jeff Kowalsky/Bloomberg News/LandovWhile hard times are forcing many Americans to stretch another year out of the family jalopy, the CEOs at banks getting bailout money will continue to ride — and fly — high. John Mack (pictured right), who heads Morgan Stanley, which has taken $10 billion in bailout money so far, enjoyed $356,000 worth of personal use of a corporate jet last year. JPMorgan Chase has gotten $25 billion in bailout money. Its chief, James Dimon (pictured left), took $211 million worth of use of a company jet last year. He used company cars at an estimated cost of $68,000. So far, neither company has indicated it will cut back on CEOs’ personal use of corporate jets as part of its acceptance of taxpayer bailout money.

Lobbying

congress © Mike Theiler/LandovCitigroup, Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase each spent around $5 million lobbying the federal government during the first nine months of 2008. Citigroup is getting $45 billion in bailout money, while the two others are getting $25 billion each. You can expect millions of dollars of that money to be spent on wining and dining Washington lawmakers; none of the banks has indicated it plans to cut back on lobbying.
CONTACT YOUR CONGRESSPERSON AND LET THEM KNOW WHAT YOU THINK? END THE BAILOUTS NOW!
CONGRESS PROMISED THE AMERICAN PEOPLE THAT THIS WOULD NOT HAPPEN –
TELL CONGRESS TO KEEP THAT PROMISE

 

 

$1.6 Billion In Taxpayor TARP Money Paid For Executive Bonuses & Lavish Perks

$1.6 billion went to bailed-out bank execs

Records show bonuses, chauffeurs, health club benefits

updated 2:03 p.m. ET, Sun., Dec. 21, 2008

Banks that are getting taxpayer bailouts awarded their top executives nearly $1.6 billion in salaries, bonuses, and other benefits last year, an Associated Press analysis reveals.

The rewards came even at banks where poor results last year foretold the economic crisis that sent them to Washington for a government rescue. Some trimmed their executive compensation due to lagging bank performance, but still forked over multimillion-dollar executive pay packages.

Benefits included cash bonuses, stock options, personal use of company jets and chauffeurs, home security, country club memberships and professional money management, the AP review of federal securities documents found.

 

The total amount given to nearly 600 executives would cover bailout costs for many of the 116 banks that have so far accepted tax dollars to boost their bottom lines.

 

The AP compiled total compensation based on annual reports that the banks file with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The 116 banks have so far received $188 billion in taxpayer help. Among the findings:

  • The average paid to each of the banks’ top executives was $2.6 million in salary, bonuses and benefits.
  • Lloyd Blankfein, president and chief executive officer of Goldman Sachs, took home nearly $54 million in compensation last year. The company’s top five executives received a total of $242 million.
  • Even where banks cut back on pay, some executives were left with seven- or eight-figure compensation that most people can only dream about. Richard D. Fairbank, the chairman of Capital One Financial Corp., took a $1 million hit in compensation after his company had a disappointing year, but still got $17 million in stock options. The McLean, Va.-based company received $3.56 billion in bailout money on Nov. 14.
  • John A. Thain, chief executive officer of Merrill Lynch, topped all corporate bank bosses with $83 million in earnings last year. Thain, a former chief operating officer for Goldman Sachs, took the reins of the company in December 2007, avoiding the blame for a year in which Merrill lost $7.8 billion. Since he began work late in the year, he earned $57,692 in salary, a $15 million signing bonus and an additional $68 million in stock options. Like Goldman, Merrill got $10 billion from taxpayers on Oct. 28.

Banks that got bailout funds also paid out millions for home security systems, private chauffeured cars, and club dues. Some banks even paid for financial advisers. Wells Fargo of San Francisco, which took $25 billion in taxpayer bailout money, gave its top executives up to $20,000 each to pay personal financial planners.

At Bank of New York Mellon Corp., chief executive Robert P. Kelly’s stipend for financial planning services came to $66,748, on top of his $975,000 salary and $7.5 million bonus. His car and driver cost $178,879. Kelly also received $846,000 in relocation expenses, including help selling his home in Pittsburgh and purchasing one in Manhattan, the company said.

Goldman Sachs’ tab for leased cars and drivers ran as high as $233,000 per executive. The firm told its shareholders this year that financial counseling and chauffeurs are important in giving executives more time to focus on their jobs.

JPMorgan Chase chairman James Dimon ran up a $211,182 private jet travel tab last year when his family lived in Chicago and he was commuting to New York. The company got $25 billion in bailout funds.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/28337800/page/2/

Let Your Congressperson Know What You Think!  Tell Congress To End The Bailouts Now!

http://www.usa.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml

 

What Bailout Transparency? Banks Refuse To Disclose Where Money Is Going

IS THE AUTO BAILOUT NEXT?

Where’d the bailout money go? Shhhh, it’s a secret

By MATT APUZZO, Associated Press Writer

 

WASHINGTON – It’s something any bank would demand to know before handing out a loan: Where’s the money going? But after receiving billions in aid from U.S. taxpayers, the nation’s largest banks say they can’t track exactly how they’re spending the money or they simply refuse to discuss it.

“We’ve lent some of it. We’ve not lent some of it. We’ve not given any accounting of, ‘Here’s how we’re doing it,'” said Thomas Kelly, a spokesman for JPMorgan Chase, which received $25 billion in emergency bailout money. “We have not disclosed that to the public. We’re declining to.”

The Associated Press contacted 21 banks that received at least $1 billion in government money and asked four questions: How much has been spent? What was it spent on? How much is being held in savings, and what’s the plan for the rest?

None of the banks provided specific answers.

Some banks said they simply didn’t know where the money was going.

“We manage our capital in its aggregate,” said Regions Financial Corp. spokesman Tim Deighton, who said the Birmingham, Ala.-based company is not tracking how it is spending the $3.5 billion it received as part of the financial bailout.

The answers highlight the secrecy surrounding the Troubled Assets Relief Program, which earmarked $700 billion — about the size of the Netherlands’ economy — to help rescue the financial industry. The Treasury Department has been using the money to buy stock in U.S. banks, hoping that the sudden inflow of cash will get banks to start lending money.

There has been no accounting of how banks spend that money. Lawmakers summoned bank executives to Capitol Hill last month and implored them to lend the money — not to hoard it or spend it on corporate bonuses, junkets or to buy other banks. But there is no process in place to make sure that’s happening and there are no consequences for banks who don’t comply.

“It is entirely appropriate for the American people to know how their taxpayer dollars are being spent in private industry,” said Elizabeth Warren, the top congressional watchdog overseeing the financial bailout.

But, at least for now, there’s no way for taxpayers to find that out.

Pressured by the Bush administration to approve the money quickly, Congress attached nearly no strings on the $700 billion bailout in October. And the Treasury Department, which doles out the money, never asked banks how it would be spent.

“Those are legitimate questions that should have been asked on Day One,” said Rep. Scott Garrett, R-N.J., a House Financial Services Committee member who opposed the bailout as it was rushed through Congress. “Where is the money going to go to? How is it going to be spent? When are we going to get a record on it?”

Nearly every bank AP questioned — including Citibank and Bank of America, two of the largest recipients of bailout money — responded with generic public relations statements explaining that the money was being used to strengthen balance sheets and continue making loans to ease the credit crisis.

No bank provided even the most basic accounting for the federal money.

“We’re choosing not to disclose that,” said Kevin Heine, spokesman for Bank of New York Mellon, which received about $3 billion.

Others said the money couldn’t be tracked. Bob Denham, a spokesman for North Carolina-based BB&T Corp., said the bailout money “doesn’t have its own bucket.” But he said taxpayer money wasn’t used in the bank’s recent purchase of a Florida insurance company. Asked how he could be sure, since the money wasn’t being tracked, Denham said the bank would have made that deal regardless.

Others, such as Morgan Stanley spokeswoman Carissa Ramirez, offered to discuss the matter with reporters on condition of anonymity. When AP refused, Ramirez sent an e-mail saying: “We are going to decline to comment on your story.”

Most banks wouldn’t say why they were keeping the details secret.

“We’re not sharing any other details. We’re just not at this time,” said Wendy Walker, a spokeswoman for Dallas-based Comerica Inc., which received $2.25 billion from the government.

Heine, the New York Mellon Corp. spokesman who said he wouldn’t share spending specifics, added: “I just would prefer if you wouldn’t say that we’re not going to discuss those details.”

Lawmakers say they want to tighten restrictions on the remaining, yet-to-be-released $350 billion block of bailout money before more cash is handed out. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said the department is trying to step up its monitoring of bank spending.

“What we’ve been doing here is moving, I think, with lightning speed to put necessary programs in place, to develop them, implement them, and then we need to monitor them while we’re doing this,” Paulson said at a recent forum in New York. “So we’re building this organization as we’re going.”

Warren, the congressional watchdog appointed by Democrats, said her oversight panel will try to force the banks to say where they’ve spent the money.

“It would take a lot of nerve not to give answers,” she said.

But Warren said she’s surprised she even has to ask.

“If the appropriate restrictions were put on the money to begin with, if the appropriate transparency was in place, then we wouldn’t be in a position where you’re trying to call every recipient and get the basic information that should already be in public documents,” she said.

Garrett, the New Jersey congressman, said the nation might never get a clear answer on where hundreds of billions of dollars went.

“A year or two ago, when we talked about spending $100 million for a bridge to nowhere, that was considered a scandal,” he said.

___

Associated Press writers Stevenson Jacobs in New York and Christopher S. Rugaber and Daniel Wagner in

WHEN CONGRESS PASSED “TARP” THEY PROMISED THE AMERICAN TAXPAYOR COMPLETE TRANSPARENCY – CONTACT YOUR CONGRESSPERSON AND DEMAND TO KNOW WHERE YOUR TAX MONEY IS GOING !  NO MORE BAILOUT FUNDS !

http://www.usa.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml

 

Top Bailout Watchdog Says Treasury Is Out Of Control

Bailout Watchdog: Where’s the Spending Plan?

Harvard professor Elizabeth Warren, the chairwoman of a congressional oversight panel, traveled to Washington Thursday to get answers on how Treasury is managing the unprecedented bailout.

The top congressional watchdog overseeing the nation’s financial bailout said Thursday she’s frustrated by the Treasury Department’s refusal to explain how it is doling out billions in taxpayer money.

Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren, the chairwoman of a congressional oversight panel, traveled to Washington to get answers on how Treasury is managing the unprecedented bailout.

In an interview with The Associated Press, the Democratic appointee said she doesn’t understand why it’s taken so long for the Bush administration to explain its plan. Warren said she doesn’t want to believe it’s because there never was a plan for spending $700 billion in taxpayer money to rescue banks.

“I don’t buy a winter coat without a plan,” she said. “I can’t imagine how someone could think they were going to repair a failing economy and undertake spending billions of dollars in taxpayer money without a plan.”

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson originally intended to use the money to buy risky loans from banks, freeing them to make new, safer loans. Shortly after the funds were approved, however, Paulson announced that $250 billion would instead be used to buy stock in U.S. banks.

“We’ve reversed directions more than once here, without any description of an overall strategy,” Warren said. “It’s not to say there’s not one, but I don’t think it should be such a well-hidden secret.”

Treasury spokeswoman Brookly Mclaughlin had no comment on Warren’s remarks. Treasury officials have said they are working toward several objectives, including stabilizing the financial markets, supporting the housing market and protecting taxpayers.

Nevertheless, the bailout has drawn criticisms from Republicans who oppose the huge new government program and from Democrats who want some of the money to be used to rework mortgages so homeowners can keep their houses.

The congressional oversight panel criticized Treasury last week for not saying exactly what problems they’re trying to fix or how the investments will fix them.

While Warren placed the blame squarely on Treasury for not laying out a clearer plan, she tempered any criticism of Congress, which placed few restrictions on the money as it hurriedly passed a law giving Treasury historic power to make multibillion-dollar decisions. Such requirements were omitted, she said, because the Bush administration pressured Congress to approve the bill quickly.

Paulson “was telling the Congress of the United States, ‘Do this right now,”‘ she said.

The five-member oversight panel is made up of three Democratic appointees and two Republicans. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky named outgoing Sen. John Sununu of New Hampshire to the panel Tuesday. Sununu has echoed Warren’s comments that taxpayers deserve to know how the money is being spent.

The panel is one of several entities monitoring the bailout, in addition to a special inspector general and the Government Accountability Office, a congressional auditor.

The GAO said in a critical report earlier this month that Treasury should toughen its monitoring of the bailout fund to ensure that banking institutions limit their top executives’ pay and comply with other restrictions.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2008/12/18/bailout-watchdog-wheres-spending-plan/

WHERE IS CONGRESS?  WHO WILL DEMAND ACCOUNTABILITY?  AND NOW CONGRESS WANTS TO SPEND BILLIONS ON AN AUTO INDUSTRY BAILOUT?

Taxpayer’s Investment In Bank Bailout Losing Money

AP IMPACT: Some bailout holdings down $9 billion

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

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

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

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

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

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

Citigroup stock has since fallen below $8.

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

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

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

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081205/ap_on_bi_ge/bailout_returns

 

%d bloggers like this: