It?s No Trick: Uncle Sam Hands Out $250 Billion Treat

by Derek Loosvelt | October 14, 2008

A handful of the biggest banks in the U.S. will soon bag billions of dollars thanks to the U.S. government. Today, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson announced that the Treasury will inject a total of $250 billion into numerous U.S. banks in order to help restore confidence to the markets. The government will take dividend-earning preferred stock in the banks included in the bailout, back any debt the banks take on in the next few years, guarantee their non-interest earning deposits, and become their last resort commercial paper purchaser. (In simpler terms, these banks just came across one of those houses on Halloween that leaves full-sized candy bars out on the porch with a note saying, Just take one, please.) As for which firms are getting the treats, half of the $250 billion will be split among Bank of America, Bank of New York Mellon, Citi, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, State Street and Wells Fargo. The other half will be split among thousands of smaller banks.

This is certainly good news for the domestic credit and stock markets (several European countries made similar moves yesterday, causing huge share price gains overseas), but mixed news for executives.

Paulson said in his statement today that “institutions that sell shares to the government will accept restrictions on executive compensation, including a clawback provision and a ban on golden parachutes during the period that Treasury holds equity issued through this program.” While executives will be able to keep their banks in business, they’ll be taking home a lot less for their time. (That is, it's no Snicker's Bar, but not quite a bad piece of fruit, either.)

As the drama continues to unfold in D.C., you'll be pleased to hear that in Hollywood, it continues. Indeed, production of the follow-up to Oliver Stone’s 1987 hit film Wall Street is going along as planned, and is set to again star Michael Douglas as the ruthless money making suspender wearing cordless phone toting Gordon Gekko (but, sadly, the sequel will not reprise Charlie Sheen’s turn as Gekko’s gofer, Bud Foxx; sorry Charlie). Allen Loeb, a former Chicago Board of Trade broker, is writing the screenplay, and recently, our sources scored a working draft of the script. Below is an excerpt:

Gordon Gekko: The point is, ladies and gentleman, that greed, for lack of a better word, is pretty darn good, especially if you can package it well with some silk ribbon and colorful paper, and sell it to other saps from here to eternity, and don’t forget to take insurance out on that beauty of yours that's all wrapped up in pretty as a picture paper, and never ever forget to pray to your higher power, if you have one, that after the Croupier calls out ‘No more bets’ and the little ball comes to a resting position, it lands on black.

Henry Clawback: What if it lands on red, Gekko? Or green? What the #$@* do we do then?

Gordon Gekko: Hmm, good question, Hank. I hadn’t thought of that. Run for the hills, I guess. Or for Washington, D.C.

I wonder if Gekko will be sporting a BlackBerry or iPhone in Wall Street II? (My money's on BlackBerry.)

Speaking of which, according to Intrade, the the money is on That One to win.

Filed Under: Finance


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