Small banks have trouble with TARP

Allan Sloan is a senior editor-at-large at Fortune

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

STEVE CHIOTAKIS: You know, lately we've gotten report after report of bank earnings that make the recession look like it's rear-view mirror. Things may appear to be positive for the big boys, but some small banks are having a tough time too.

SNL Securities reports there are more than 10 banks having difficulties not only in exiting the Troubled Asset Relief Program, but they haven't even been able to pay a penny in dividends. It's one of the topics Allan Sloan -- Fortune Magazine's Allan Sloan -- says should be on the radar, because we're talking more than half a billion dollars in TARP money. Allan joins us to talk about it this morning. Hi Allan.

Allan Sloan: Good morning Steve.

Chiotakis: Which banks are these?

Sloan: Well, I can tell you 18 of them, except you probably never heard of any of them. Because there's a report that's listed 18 banks that haven't been able to make the dividend payments on their loans, these TARP loans from the government. And one of these days, after in Washington they stopped high-fiving about all the money we taxpayers got from American Express and Goldman Sachs, it's going to begin to dawn on people that there are a whole bunch of these banks that aren't going to pay us back.

Chiotakis: What were we expecting to get back from these banks?

Sloan:Well what I expected to get back, if there was a miracle, was the full interest these guys had agreed to pay with 5 percent for five years, and then getting the principal repaid. Now in a bunch of cases it's clear that we're not going to get the principal back.

Chiotakis: So Allan, can we as taxpayers take the same course of action as the banks would take if we were to default on loans?

Sloan: Oh no! If you default on a loan either the bank comes and takes what you borrowed against...

Chiotakis: Yeah

Sloan: Or it comes and puts you into bankruptcy and does any number of unpleasant things. But if the bank doesn't pay the Treasury, the Treasury's got certain rights. But the banks stiffing the Treasury is nothing like having you stiff the banks. And maybe the answer is maybe you should borrow from the Treasury next time, Steve.

Chiotakis: I mean no collection agencies calling? They don't come and repossess your car or whatever your collateral?

Sloan: I don't know, I mean I don't know if they come and pound on the door, the president of the bank at midnight. But somehow I doubt that they do that.

Chiotakis: All right, Fortune Magazine's Allan Sloan joining us this morning. Allan, thanks.

Sloan: My pleasure Steve.

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