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Fallout: The Financial Crisis

Banks have hurdles to get rid of TARP

Steve Henn May 6, 2009
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Fallout: The Financial Crisis

Banks have hurdles to get rid of TARP

Steve Henn May 6, 2009
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TEXT OF STORY

Kai Ryssdal: Now that the stress test results are all but officially out, there is another big issue for banks to deal with: How to get out of the TARP — the $700 billion bank bailout program. A lot of bankers are pretty eager to give the government back its money and be free of the extra regulations that came with it. But Marketplace’s Steve Henn reports they’re going to have to clear a couple of hurdles first.


STEVE HENN: Banks think the Troubled Asset Relief Program is an invitation for government to go mess with their businesses and bonus checks. So…

SAM Hayes: The strongest banks have been moving very quickly to get out from under TARP.

Sam Hayes taught investment banking at Harvard Business School. He says before paying the government back, banks will first have to pass the stress test. And word is they’ll need to go to capital markets and borrow money from investors all on their own too.

Hayes: I think it’s a pretty good way to test the water frankly.

Since last October, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation guaranteed new bank debt. If a bank defaulted, the FDIC would make private investors whole. That made bank borrowing possible.

But Doug Diamond at the University of Chicago says forcing a bank to prove investors will buy their debt without government guarantees is a smart move.

DOUG Diamond: So this is way of giving a market test so the regulators don’t have to just use their own stress tests to decide how just credit worthy a given bank is.

Banks have used FDIC guarantees to cheaply borrow more than $330 billion. Diamond says normally bankers would be loath to give up this kind of goody but…

Diamond: If they are going to say we don’t like your stinkin’ regulations they gotta make sure they at least give up a few of the subsidies.

Still bank lobbyists are arguing that forcing their clients to give up these guarantees will rob banks of needed capital and could hurt the economy.

In Washington, I’m Steve Henn for Marketplace.

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