Sunday, September 21, 2008

Bailout Eligibility Expanded to Foreign Institutions

by Bill McBride on 9/21/2008 10:33:00 AM

Here is a paragraph from the Treasury Fact Sheet released last night:

Asset and Institutional Eligibility for the Program. To qualify for the program, assets must have been originated or issued on or before September 17, 2008. Participating financial institutions must have significant operations in the U.S., unless the Secretary makes a determination, in consultation with the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, that broader eligibility is necessary to effectively stabilize financial markets.
So this bailout covers any securities issued on or before last week! Why would we be bailing out activity from this year? Or even after Feb 2007 when the subprime crisis woke everyone up? I'd argue for an even earlier date ...

But the second sentence is even more surprising: eligibility has been changed from "financial institution having its headquarters in the United States" to "significant operations in the U.S." - and even "broader eligibility" if Paulson so decides.

According to this fact sheet, under the Paulson Plan, U.S. taxpayers may bailout foreign financial institutions and even foreign governments.

Update: Paulson confirms on TV, via Reuters: Paulson: Foreign banks can use U.S. rescue plan
Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said Sunday that foreign banks will be able to unload bad financial assets under a $700 billion U.S. proposal aimed at restoring order during a devastating financial crisis.

"Yes, and they should. Because ... if a financial institution has business operations in the United States, hires people in the United States, if they are clogged with illiquid assets, they have the same impact on the American people as any other institution," Paulson said on ABC television's "This Week with George Stephanopolous."

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