Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Gonna make Atrios's head explode

The opening to the New York Times article on $33.9 billion being necessary to keep Bank of America solvent:

Executives sparred with the government over the amount, which is higher than executives believed the bank needed. But J. Steele Alphin, the bank’s chief administrative officer, said Bank of America would have plenty of options to raise the capital on its own before it would have to convert any of taxpayer money into common stock, a move that would effectively increase the government’s holdings in the troubled bank.

We’re not happy about it because it’s still a big number,” Mr. Alphin said. “We think it should be a bit less at the end of the day.”

This idea that the government is forcing capital down the throats of the bankers is totally nuts. The financial institutions these people are running are bankrupt. However, they are pretending otherwise because bankruptcy involves wiping out common shareholders and replacing management (whose stock and options would also be made worthless).

That even the New York Times, whose coverage rarely dabbles in pro-banker spin, includes the quote from the poor widdle bank who has to accept $34 billion in capital (for which the government will probably pay an above-market price) I can only attribute to CNBC's dominance of business media.

The government is funneling huge amounts of money into these institutions, but their executives, stockholders and bondholders want it/us to do it without getting ownership of the banks in return. This is obviously an unreasonable request! Of course they're going to make it. They have a fiduciary duty to do so, in fact. But we, and certainly the New York Times, are not supposed to take it so seriously, and/or feel badly for them.

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