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cletus8269

its a secret that everyone knows

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

WASHINGTON (AP) - 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.

"We're not providing dollar-in, dollar-out tracking," said Barry Koling, a spokesman for Atlanta, Ga.-based SunTrust Banks Inc., which got $3.5 billion in taxpayer dollars.

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

"We manage our capital in its aggregate," said Regions Financial Corp. (RF) 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 Asset 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.

A few banks described company-specific programs, such as JPMorgan Chase's plan to lend $5 billion to nonprofit and health care companies next year. Richard Becker, senior vice president of Wisconsin-based Marshall & Ilsley Corp. (MI) (MI), said the $1.75 billion in bailout money allowed the bank to temporarily stop foreclosing on homes.

But 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 (MS) 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."

The banks which came closest to answering the questions were those, such as U.S. Bancorp and Huntington Bancshares Inc., that only recently received the money and have yet to spend it. But neither provided anything more than a generic summary of how the money would be spent.

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.

By MATT APUZZO

---

Associated Press writers Stevenson Jacobs in New York and Christopher S. Rugaber and Daniel Wagner in Washington contributed to this report.

(This version CORRECTS SUBS 9th graf to correct program name to Troubled Asset, sted Assets. Moving on general news and financial services. AP Video.)

http://apnews.myway.com/article/20081222/D957QL7O0.html

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It's fu*&ing time.... heads MUST roll, blood must flow.

The only way to fully cure a cancer patient is to CUT

the cancer out, seems like the USA has several nasty

tumors and they're in need of removal.

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This is why the MEDIA sucks so F'ing hard. Why?

Because the 'scandalous' story on the auto CEOs flying to DC made the rounds like chain lightning, toting the banner 'wasting taxpayer money' when it was relative couch cushion change compared to this. Yet there's narry the peep out of the media on this, no snide commentary, no besmirching editorializing, no shame-laden slants.

ONE AP-piece that will fade by tomorrow... no overtones, no personal attacks on the banking industry or their CEOs.

Yesteryear's media would never allow such a one-sided handling of the facts due to professionalism.

Today its nothing more than 'entertainment value', not real investigative reporting.

Edited by balthazar
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I, for one, am shocked and dismayed! How could this happen? I mean, they didn't ask for any collateral or for any stipulations on the $350 Billion, and now the Government cannot seem to track how the money was spent? :unsure:

Seriously, the media did not see this coming? Quick Hint: Look for the public servants (Congress-persons and Senators) with the huge multi-million dollar houses and new cars in a district near you..it all funnels back to them.

Oxymoron: HONEST Government.

The part that CHAPS MY ASS is they drag the big three up there and act all hollier than thou at the same time they are GIVING AWAY $350 BILLION WITHOUT EVEN A SINGLE STIPULATION. The best part? The automakers get a loan and a time frame of four months...the banks just had the money handed to them and I still have not received MY thank you card from ANY of those jerks!

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Wall Street is closer to Rockefeller Center than Detroit, I guess. Cozy cousins? The media is lazy, plain and simple. There is no budget for actual research anymore. They're all too busy looking for that 5 second sound bite.

Any idiot could smell the stench in the banking industry - it could be smelled for blocks, but they're all so cozy down there. All these debt swaps and asset backed crap were all about the commissions. These f'ing clowns laughed all the way to the bank - literally.

I have zero respect for accountants and lawyers - and this is why. They bamboozle us with total BS and rob the public blind, yet we keep going back for more. The banking industry is the wild, wild west, yet we've been convinced that 'this isn't the twenties.' Yeah, right.

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It's a textbook example of hypocrisy of the highest accord: the banks just had to say, "We need $700 billion dollars" -- didn't even have to ask for it, really -- and they got their money handed to them in 24 karat gold briefcases and without a single stipulation. They didn't even have to keep records of where it was going or what it was being used for. Then Detroit Inc. takes whatever is left of itself down to Washington D.C. and basically had to crucify that said remainder of its former self to get a fraction of what the banks received. And there are conditions that go with that money as well. And here's the real kicker: it's really not even enough to keep the lights on past the first part of next year.

The U.S. Government is going to collapse in on itself from the weight of its corruption at this rate.

Burn, baby, burn.

Edited by YellowJacket894
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The U.S. Government is going to collapse in on itself from the weight of its corruption at this rate.

Burn, baby, burn.

what i sent to a local paper for a "speak out" hasn't been in a paper yet.. wondering if they will put it out unaltered.

Walter Williams had a great article the other day about the Federal Reserve. The only worst part

about it was what it lacked. The article fell short of stating the obvious to anyone that has

read the Constitution of this country, and that is that our central bank is unconstitutional.

In section 8 of the Constitution says, of the powers of congress: "To coin Money, regulate the

Value thereof...".

This has never been amended and thusly Congress has been unlawfully being lax in what they are

commissioned to do, and therefor a great number of them have not upheld their oath of office

and should be impeached. The voters keep electing many crooks into office, this has to stop.

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It's time like this that I want to become militant.

Start at the top. I can't believe you allow your presidents to do these pardons before they scurry off.

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You folks realize how much money companies already spend on accounting and compliance don't ya? Do you realize how much time, effort, and not to mention MONEY it would cost to track these funds individually?

I would much rather see these companies putting that money to work than wasting 20% of it just keeping track of where its going.

... not like its really gonna help anyways.

Hell, if they really wanted to alleviate some of the burden placed on business (and improve their liquidity) they could repeal Sarbanes-Oxley, which would give companies a LOT more time to think about other stuff rather than compliance (which takes a lot of time and money)... plus its debatable if its even helped at all.

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20% to track it ?? BS. Any financial entity that runs that inefficiently deserves to die.

They have to track their dollars as a matter of course- how else do they file taxes & compile annual reports ??

-- -- -- -- --

Watch & see how much is 'lost' of the $787B approved today. I would not be surprised if HALF simply disappears, and the scope of tracking it this time is how many times larger ??? We're f**ked, our kids are f**ked, and their kids are f**ked.

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If our country was a communist or dictator regime, these people would have been slaughtered - innocent or not. At least I would have sent a few behind the bars if not all of them to create some fear and responsibility.

I guess "power of democracy" has made these passive-aggressive numb nuts survive, which is due to inaction of people who hold "power" of democracy i.e. common people.

By not even raising a finger and going overboard in helping them is even more lack of accountability on part of our government and us.

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20% to track it ?? BS. Any financial entity that runs that inefficiently deserves to die.

They have to track their dollars as a matter of course- how else do they file taxes & compile annual reports ??

-- -- -- -- --

Watch & see how much is 'lost' of the $787B approved today. I would not be surprised if HALF simply disappears, and the scope of tracking it this time is how many times larger ??? We're f**ked, our kids are f**ked, and their kids are f**ked.

Granted 20% is a high figure, but it is not uncommon for business to spend anywhere from 5-20% of their income just on COMPLIANCE with SOX and accounting.

Tracking individual dollars would only increase that cost... im not saying it would cost 20% just to track the money itself, but to add it to the already high costs of accounting/compliance.

I do believe HP spends around 15-20% of their income on compliance issues.

Moreover, why are you complaining about the companies when the SEC and other government institutions had ideas of what was going on? How about the fact that several of the governments initiatives to get people into homes (such as putting more pressure on banks to lend to people who were considered high risk) helped create the housing bubble and the eventual burst due to far too abundant credit in the system?

No, i suppose its easier to blame the companies right? There was an analogy i heard for this, i believe it went: If a kindergartner teacher left a bunch of sugary candy for the children in the classroom and then took off for an hour, whose fault is it in the end when the room is trashed and all the kindergartners are running amok?

The government is very good at producing undesired side effects in their "plans." I am getting very sick of seeing people from both sides of the aisle place blame solely on the "corrupt" nature of Wall Street who, of course, are out to make money cause THAT'S THE POINT OF BUSINESS... and regardless of how much regulation you slap on, there will always be people who figure out how to defraud others and make headlines. Additionally, if the government goes around making money too easy to access for business, as it has been doing for a while now, what do you expect them to do? Ignore the free candy in front of them?

Edited by Teh Ricer Civic!
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Oh no; I am totally on board with pinning the blame where it belongs- and that's government as the primary. I'm just saying, IF a bank was using 20% of bailout money just to track that money, they didn't deserve any bailout to begin with.

I'm not up on what 'compliance' entails from a corporate financial standpoint, but I cannot see how running more of what they already run (money) thru their various investments & programs would cost much of anything more to track except a little time. It's not like the individual bank splits up the bailout billions into $5s and $10s....

Edited by balthazar
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Oh no; I am totally on board with pinning the blame where it belongs- and that's government as the primary. I'm just saying, IF a bank was using 20% of bailout money just to track that money, they didn't deserve any bailout to begin with.

I'm not up on what 'compliance' entails from a corporate financial standpoint, but I cannot see how running more of what they already run (money) thru their various investments & programs would cost much of anything more to track except a little time. It's not like the individual bank splits up the bailout billions into $5s and $10s....

Well they likely wouldn't be using 20% of the bailout money itself... im just saying off of income. There is a lot of time and money that goes into making sure that financial statements comply with the IRS least they incur some nice lawsuits (and many other penalties).

Basically, you would have the government bailout essentially go into a cash account. Now so long as there is cash in that account greater than the bailout at all times, you could effectively say that you never even spent it. Is it true? Probably not, but you can't really track it. The best you could do is say you transferred say $5 billion to such and such department (or account) or whatever, and maybe guess what it did from there, but it wouldn't be very effective or useful in my opinion. because really, how do you separate numbers from accounts?

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It would cost nothing to explain where they intend to use the money before getting it.

It's the tight-lipped, smug attitude they all expressed when questioned that piss everyone off. They deserve all of the nasty reaction they have been getting.

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Heard something very interesting today.

Apparently, the CEO of US Bank Corp is talking. Said he was told USB had to take the TARP money, and that it was NOT to free up the loan dept, but to buy up smaller banks.... some of which USB in fact did. CEO of Wells Fargo is already on record saying basically the same thing- they initially refused TARP money because they had little exposure to sub-prime morgages, and did not need any bailout money. He was sat down and told he had to agree to taking it before he left that meeting, and once again that the money was to be using firstly to buy up smaller banks.

If true, there is an obvious agenda to consolidate the financial industry, meanwhile bringing it under direct governmental control. Is there another entity more crooked and at the same time, more grossly inefficient ??

May I recommend stockpiling Mason jars for future investment ?

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Heard something very interesting today.

Apparently, the CEO of US Bank Corp is talking. Said he was told USB had to take the TARP money, and that it was NOT to free up the loan dept, but to buy up smaller banks.... some of which USB in fact did. CEO of Wells Fargo is already on record saying basically the same thing- they initially refused TARP money because they had little exposure to sub-prime morgages, and did not need any bailout money. He was sat down and told he had to agree to taking it before he left that meeting, and once again that the money was to be using firstly to buy up smaller banks.

If true, there is an obvious agenda to consolidate the financial industry, meanwhile bringing it under direct governmental control. Is there another entity more crooked and at the same time, more grossly inefficient ??

May I recommend stockpiling Mason jars for future investment ?

Well Bank of America was doin Okay until the government told them they had to buy out, who was it, goldman sachs? And now because of that forced merger they are in trouble and in need of a second round of government money (the first round was to help acquire goldman or whoever it was).

Now if the government hadn't of tinkered with these, banks would likely have bought out assets that they saw favorable when other banks were liquidating, not the entire thing (filled with bad debts as well)... and generally in the desperation to liquidate, those bad debts would have been auctioned off very cheaply, making even those potentially beneficial assets to the other banks (even assuming most of the debt is bad, if you bought it for 5 cents on the dollar, its likely to still pay off).

Sure it would have undoubtedly created some severe hardships for people with those bad debts, but its better if one of the cornerstones of our economy is in a relative healthy position than one where they are not much more than zombie banks relying on the government to stay alive.

And i have friends who have an entire cabinet full of Mason jars.

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Heard something very interesting today.

Apparently, the CEO of US Bank Corp is talking. Said he was told USB had to take the TARP money, and that it was NOT to free up the loan dept, but to buy up smaller banks.... some of which USB in fact did. CEO of Wells Fargo is already on record saying basically the same thing- they initially refused TARP money because they had little exposure to sub-prime morgages, and did not need any bailout money. He was sat down and told he had to agree to taking it before he left that meeting, and once again that the money was to be using firstly to buy up smaller banks.

If true, there is an obvious agenda to consolidate the financial industry, meanwhile bringing it under direct governmental control. Is there another entity more crooked and at the same time, more grossly inefficient ??

May I recommend stockpiling Mason jars for future investment ?

I don't know about US Bank Corp, but the lying by the CEO of Wells Fargo would make Ron Blagovitch blush.

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It goes back to this; we're prolonging the inevitable

No one in this country wants to pay for what they have been doing for the past 15 years (living beyond their means, screwing people over on mortgages, etc.) And the government just wants votes (not the health of america) so we're essentially in this cycle of pissing on a forest fire.

The whole damn thing is about to come unglued, and unless we cut the fat and SOME people suffer (like it or not -- that's you and me, not the fat cat bankers that screwed us) we're just prolonging an even bigger crash.

Just wait until this summer when we have a recession, record unemployment, record debt and gas prices skyrocketing (we all saw last week that the next big scam has been hatched) Things will start getting REAL bad then and we'll hit the "reset" button again.

It's funny how GM really is serving as an example of what is happening in the economy over all. Gas prices started their nosedive, they have too much debt and too many mouths to feed, they can't get financing and at the same time they're rapidly reaching a point at which they're no longer feasible to save.

:deathwatch:

Edited by FUTURE_OF_GM
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