When the country's three largest banks reached agreement on Friday on how to structure a $75 billion fund to prop up distressed securities, an exhausted group of its top planners gathered in a Bank of America conference room to toast their success with 12-packs of Bud Light.
But the celebration might have come too soon.
Having settled on the fund's composition, officials from Bank of America, Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase will now have to raise more than $60 billion of the fund from dozens of financial institutions around the globe in the next few weeks. The goal is to have the fund operating by the end of the year. But the big question is: Will it actually help?
The answer, some analysts and big investors say, is probably not much. The backup fund will not save troubled structured investment vehicles, or SIVs, that hold billions of dollars in packaged loans, though it could delay their demise. It may help calm the turbulent credit markets by preventing a sharp sell-off of securities, though analysts say the fund will probably not be able to offset the deteriorating prices of the securities.
Ripped straight from today's headlines? Not really. Try November of 2007, actually. And that bailout plan bit the dust too.
Who the hell drinks Bud Light at the closing party? Well, I suppose it was only the end of a structuring party. Maybe the good stuff was packed away for a bigger event. Still, I have a sneaking suspicion that Bank of America's catering department keeps the cold ones stocked all the time, not just for special occasions. Still think that the post-merger integration with Merrill is going to go smoothly?