With all the talk of buying American lately, and with Obama taking the opportunity with the cameras to give Chrysler a bit of free endorsement work (Chrysler, we hope you file that on your taxes)…
So these are some of the steps that we’re taking to make it easier for Americans to buy a car. If you are considering buying a car, I hope it will be an American car. I want to remind you that if you decide to buy a Chrysler, your warrantee will be safe — because it is backed by the United States government. And to further boost demand for autos, we are working to accelerate the purchase of a federal fleet, and we’re also working with Congress on fleet modernization legislation that can provide a credit to consumers who turn in old cars and purchase cleaner, more fuel-efficient cars.
…we thought we would revisit the Administration’s driving habits.
Of course, one fact missing from our old exploration on the topic was that Obama traded in his Chrysler 300C for a Ford Escape Hybrid in 2007 after putting a mere 20,000 miles on the Chrysler. Odd, Chrysler wasn’t good enough to hang on to back then. What’s changed?
Who drives what, after the jump.
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Meet the evil villains that won’t let Chrysler just escape its obligations to pay its creditors:
As of last night’s deadline, we were part of a group of approximately 20 relatively small organizations; we represent many of the country’s teachers unions, major pension and retirement plans and school endowments who have invested through us in senior secured loans to Chrysler. Combined, these loans total about $1 billion. None of us have taken a dime in TARP money.
As much as anyone, we want to see Chrysler emerge from its current situation as a viable American company, and we are committed to doing what we can to help. Indeed, we have made significant concessions toward this end — although we have been systematically precluded from engaging in direct discussions or negotiations with the government; instead, we have been forced to communicate through an obviously conflicted intermediary: a group of banks that have received billions of TARP funds.
Perhaps showing a seven season West Wing marathon wasn’t the best Oval Office training film after all?
Statement From Non-Tarp Lenders of Chrysler [The Wall Street Journal - Deal Journal]
Lullaby and goodnight
Those blue eyes close tight
Bright angels are near
So sleep without fear
They will guard thee from harm
With fair dreamland’s sweet charm
They will guard thee from harm
With fair dreamland’s sweet charm
CNBC is reporting that the President’s men have “full confidence” in the personage (and presumably the taste) of Mr. Rattner, who’s cinematic production genius has graced the world with Chooch.
A more ringing endorsement of the film we have not yet encountered.
“So thank you for the loan, we’ll just pay this back now and do away with these compensation requirements…” Cindy had brought a copy of the regulations to ceremonially tear up for the occasion. Thin smiles began to emerge, a glimmer of hope, then faded instantly when Tim interrupted.
“Yeah, not so fast.”
“Yeah, aren’t you forgetting something?”
“Wha- what do you mean? I have the check right here. It’s a cashier’s check even, like you asked for. It is signed in the right place. The amount is right there…” The amount was quite visible to everyone in the room, it having overlapped into two rows because of all the zeros.
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This bloody “stress test” fiasco has mutated into the car presentation scene in every “My Super Sweet Sixteen” ever filmed. In fact, about everything the administration does looks MTV to us lately. First the car (stress test) is discussed.
“The Secretary and the Department of the Treasury have long recognized that transparency was important for taxpayers, important for the banks and important for the overall stability of the financial system,” said White House spokesman Robert Gibbs. “And I think that’s what you’ll see.”
Then the make and model is discussed. Bickering ensues. It’s not clear the desired car (stress test results) will be forthcoming.
Gibbs declined to comment on what the results would be, however he said the tests would be completed – in a “systematic and coordinated” way — around the beginning of May.
Obfuscation heightens the drama (better not disclose the results early, before the party, you know).
Government officials are pressing banks not to disclose information about the stress tests in the next few weeks before they are complete. There is a worry that details will spill out during bank earnings season, which started this week. Treasury officials expect earnings season to be completed before the stress tests are finished.
Bratty behavior suggests the stress tests might not turn out as desired.
However, it’s unclear whether banks will have the option of ignoring the results. Regulatory observers argue that there are a wide variety of ways bank regulators could pressure banks to take government capital or do other things, even if they are opposed to the idea.
Now, apparently, some hint about the car might be released early. Or not. Or maybe.
Roll out the car, start the credits and put an end to the damn show already. We’re already sick of listening to this brat and
RealTrue Life: I Work At The Fed is on next.
White House: U.S. to release some stress test details [MarketWatch]
And you thought today would end without a good, deep laugh.
President Barack Obama is expected to tap Fannie Mae Chief Executive Herb Allison to head the government’s $700 billion financial-rescue program, people familiar with the matter say.
Bank Vet Tapped to Run Bailout [The Wall Street Journal]
For a quick lesson in hypocrisy and smoke and mirrors all tied into one, how about the test that no banks can fail, and that, in any case, is based on such lax standards and assumptions that even the institution passing with high honors should give investors no comfort whatsoever? We refer, of course, to the much touted (by the Administration in any event) “stress tests,” the economic assumptions of which have already been overtaken by current conditions.
Really, it is insulting to the public to think that their confidence will be restored by some arbitrary “stress test.” We suppose that we are supposed to draw from our experience with federal standards like those “regulating” “no trans-fats” and “no calorie sweetener” claims to feel certain that the government knows what it is doing and happily go long all financial institution (since none will fail the “stress test.”)
Regulators say all 19 banks undergoing the exams will pass them. Indeed, they say this is a test that a bank simply will not fail: if the examiners determine that a bank needs “exceptional assistance,” the government, that is, taxpayers, will provide it.
But the tests, which are expected to be completed by the end of this month, are being conducted out of public view. Federal law prohibits the unauthorized disclosure of the results of any bank examination, including the stress tests. Some investors wonder if the new tests are rigorous enough, given the potential problems lurking inside the banking industry.
We are shocked, shocked, to discover that no banks are failing the test.
Banks Holding Up in Tests, but May Still Need Aid [The New York Times]
As you will know from our Opening Bell, the latest from the bailout boys is the concept that a series of mutual funds raised to buy toxic assets are the modern equivalent of patriotic “Liberty Bonds” or “War Bonds” of years past. Aside from being a rather nauseating bit of gamesmanship to compare bonds used to fight the Great War or World War II, we bristle at the suggestion that there is some patriotic duty to bail out the failed policies that fostered the illusory “American Dream of Home Ownership” for every citizen (no matter what the cost) and the fraud these perpetrated on the country. Is it not enough that we are already providing what are effectively failed institutions unbearably low cost capital while the likes of Berkshire Hathaway must wallow in high rates?
It is more than despicable that, now that the PPIP looks like it may be an abject failure even before bids have hit the screens, we should see the attempt to throw the problem onto the “dumb money” of the retail investor, without the leverage of the PPIP and while collecting fees, we might add. (As if same wasn’t already going to bear the burden of several trillion in extra debt, and the taxes that will go to pay for it along with the vanity that imagines now is the perfect time to tax all energy and reform the health care system by socializing its costs). No doubt large mutual fund failures will tear of each other’s ears trying to climb on top of each other to reach the brass ring of reset-high water marks by purging out units of the newest CDOs to the public.
If ever there were cause to invent the fanciful institution of the Vomitorium, this is it. You’re welcome to your turn when we are though.
U.S. May Enlist Small Investors in Bank Bailout [The New York Times]
It’s one thing to say that a firm might be better off in bankruptcy. It is another entirely to prod it down the plank towards the sea.
General Motors Corp.’s 60-day deadline to restructure is unlikely to be extended because the U.S. won’t repay $1 billion in convertible notes maturing June 1, according to a person with knowledge of the discussions.
President Barack Obama’s auto task force told the biggest U.S. automaker it doesn’t want taxpayer funds used to repay debt maturities, said the person, who declined to be identified because the talks are private. Detroit-based GM has $1 billion of 1.5 percent convertible securities coming due June 1. The debentures, issued in increments of $25, fell $2.05 to $7.20 as of 1:56 p.m. in New York, which would be the lowest closing price since December, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Funny, we don’t remember any sort of squeamishness about “taxpayer funds used to repay debt maturities,” before now. Why the sudden change in heart?
GM Said to Be Warned Government Won’t Make June 1 Debt Payment [Bloomberg]