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Citibail: Another in an endless series of doomed, late-night bailouts; 1 am Eastern update: Citicorp to receive $306 billion fed backing + $20 billion more from Crap Sandwich

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By Michelle Malkin  •  November 23, 2008 10:45 PM

Scroll for updates…Citicorp’s $306 billion + $20 billion bailout agreement reached…Treasury/FDIC/Federal Reserve issue statement…Bottom line: We’re Screwed ’08!


(Thanks to BT for the photoshop.)

Crap Sandwich 2.0 is morphing again.

We’ve gone from the toxic assets purchase plan to the capital injection plan to the throw-it-all-against-the-wall-and-whatever-the-hell-sticks-sticks non-plan plan. In the latest late-night bailout plot — you smelled it coming, didn’t you — the feds are colluding with Citigroup to engineer another “rescue” that will not work.

Let’s repeat that not-so-bold prediction: It ain’t gonna work.

Unless by “work” you mean opening the floodgates to more and more and more bailouts of businesses that deserve to fail.

The details, such as they are:

U.S. government regulators were nearing approval of a radical plan to stabilize Citigroup on Sunday in which the government would soak up tens of billions of dollars in losses at the struggling bank, according to people briefed on the discussions.

The plan, which emerged after a harrowing week in the financial markets, would mark the government’s third effort in as many months to contain the deepening economic crisis. While the negotiations were in flux on Sunday night, the proposal, if applied to other banks, could set the precedent for other multibillion-dollar financial rescues…

…The plan could herald another shift in the government’s morphing financial rescue. The Treasury Department initially proposed buying troubled assets from banks but then reversed course and began injecting capital directly into financial institutions. Neither plan, however, restored investors’ confidence for long.

“It’s been one announcement after another that has had substance, but not enough teeth,” Charles Geisst, a financial historian and professor at Manhattan College. “By intervening, they are giving the market some heart to temporarily stave off some fear — but you can only push that so much.”

It was unclear on Sunday night exactly how the Citigroup arrangement might work. The government and Citigroup executives were combing through Citigroup’s books and trying to determine the level of losses that it would be willing to bear. Another question is whether any additional government money for Citigroup, which has already received $25 billion under the initial rescue plan, would come from the $700 billion industry bailout that Congress approved in October or from other sources, like the Federal Reserve or the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

Regulators were debating various terms of the arrangement on Sunday, including whether the government would receive preferred stock or warrants, which are instruments that give holders the right to buy stock. Preferred stock would be more beneficial to taxpayers because Citigroup would pay dividends on those shares; warrants would be more attractive to Citigroup’s existing shareholders because they would not immediately dilute the value of their investments as much as preferred stock.

Hey, where can the rest of line up to get some “emergency cash:”

Citigroup seeks ’emergency cash’

There are fears that without further funding the bank might not be able to survive. Any money would be in addition to the $25bn injection it received in October from the US Treasury.

Options being discussed included a government cash injection as well as Citigroup selling some of its business, reported The Sunday Times.

Chief executive Vikram Pandit told employees on Friday that the firm did not want to change its business model, Reuters reported, citing two employees.

He also reiterated that the firm had a robust capital position.

But Sean Egan, analyst at ratings agency Egan-Jones Ratings, said, “Citigroup needs a deep-pocketed investor that is ready, willing, and able to step up in the next few days.”

“The only one who comes to mind is the government,” he said, adding that $50bn might be needed.

In a bid to reassure investors, Citigroup is running advertisements in US and international newspapers on Sunday underlining its stability.

It is widely expected that Citigroup will issue a statement on Monday before the US markets open.

Now, more than ever, it is time to roll back the bailout. Call your Senator and tell them to support GOP Sen. Jim Inhofe’s S. 3683:

GOP Sen. Richard Shelby holds the line:

Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., a free-market advocate who opposes government intervention, said he thought any effort to aid Citigroup was a mistake.

“Citi has got to save itself,” Shelby said. “And, can they do it by a merger with somebody else or going to somebody else? I don’t know,” he said on ABC.

***

Hey, here’s another genius idea: A builders’ bailout! Subsidize the propping up of home prices. Subsidize the same behavior that got us into the subprime mess in the first place. Briiiiiilliant:

Struggling U.S. auto makers left Washington empty-handed after weeks of pleading for a handout, but that hasn’t deterred home builders from stepping up to lobby Congress for help.

But any federal assistance would require policy makers to figure out how to stimulate demand for housing — the problem at the root of the global financial meltdown — without artificially propping up home values.

Some economists fear federal intervention to help homeowners may instead encourage more overbuilding.

Duh. Ya think?

The builders’ lobby is ramping up its sales pitch for a $250 billion stimulus package called “Fix Housing First,” arguing that financial markets won’t recover until home prices stop falling. They are calling for a generous tax credit for home purchases and a federal subsidy that would lower a homeowner’s mortgage rate.

Congress resisted a similar effort to pass a larger tax credit earlier this year, instead creating a $7,500 credit for new-home purchases that had to be paid back over 15 years, effectively extending an interest-free loan.

Builders are promoting the campaign with full-page newspaper advertisements, but face an uphill battle, with critics suggesting the proposal is too expensive and that it too heavily promotes home purchases rather than addressing loan modifications for delinquent homeowners.

The effort aims to stop the adverse feedback loop gripping the market. The cycle begins when falling home prices prompt some borrowers to default, leading to foreclosures. That further depresses home prices, hitting the banks that hold mortgage-backed securities, causing them to pull back and freeze credit. That in turn causes the economy to slow.

“The basic asset that is underlying all the financial problems that we’re experiencing is highly unstable, and it’s causing an ongoing hemorrhaging in the financial system,” said David Ledford, who oversees housing finance and policy for the National Association of Homebuilders. “It’s starting to snowball.”

Starting to snowball?!?!

***

1am Eastern update: Here we go, folks. The Treasury Dept/FDIC/Federal Reserve have issued their late-night joint statement announcing $306 billion in federal backing for Citicorp plus $20 billion of the Crap Sandwich (that’s on top of the $25 billion bite they’ve already taken):

The following is the text of a statement on Citigroup released jointly by the U.S. Treasury Department, Federal Reserve and Federal Deposit Insurance Corp on Sunday:

The U.S. government is committed to supporting financial market stability, which is a prerequisite to restoring vigorous economic growth. In support of this commitment, the U.S.
government on Sunday entered into an agreement with Citigroup to provide a package of guarantees, liquidity access and capital.

As part of the agreement, Treasury and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation will provide protection against the possibility of unusually large losses on an asset pool of approximately $306 billion of loans and securities backed by residential and commercial real estate and other such assets, which will remain on Citigroup’s balance sheet. As a fee for this arrangement, Citigroup will issue preferred shares to the Treasury and FDIC. In addition and if necessary, the Federal Reserve stands ready to backstop residual risk in the asset pool through a non-recourse loan.

In addition, Treasury will invest $20 billion in Citigroup from the Troubled Asset Relief Program in exchange for preferred stock with an 8% dividend to the Treasury. Citigroup will comply with enhanced executive compensation restrictions and implement the FDIC’s mortgage modification program.

With these transactions, the U.S. government is taking the actions necessary to strengthen the financial system and protect U.S. taxpayers and the U.S. economy.

We will continue to use all of our resources to preserve the strength of our banking institutions and promote the process of repair and recovery and to manage risks. The following principles guide our efforts:

* We will work to support a healthy resumption of credit flows to households and businesses.
* We will exercise prudent stewardship of taxpayer resources.
* We will carefully circumscribe the involvement of government in the financial sector.
* We will bolster the efforts of financial institutions to attract private capital.

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