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Friday, January 9, 2009

Great Recession Roundup — January 9, 2009

Items of Interest:

Barney Bailout El Hefe

Barney FrankAndrew Rice / Portfolio:
Barney Frank Has Got Your Number -- With Henry Paulson leaving the Treasury, the sharp-tongued chairman of the House Financial Services Committee has become the face of the Wall Street bailout, a target for left and right alike. Now he sits at the center of the debate over whether Congress has what it takes to rewrite the rules of finance...

LA Times:
Frank wants more bank pay restrictions, and no private jets -- Getting help from the government? Prepare to give up your private jet.

Rep. Barney Frank, who heads the House Financial Services Committee, today listed the strings he wants to attach to the second installment of the $700-billion financial system bailout.

Here are some of the restrictions the Massachusetts Democrat would impose on banks that want to tap the next $350 billion in government funds to bolster their capital:
  • No payments or accruing of any bonus or incentive compensation to the 25 most highly compensated employees...
  • Private aircraft or leases would have to be divested. Bankers flying coach?? This rule was imposed on the auto companies as well...
  • No golden parachute payments as long as the bank has government capital. This one is a no-brainer with the public...
Frank Says Obama Backs $729,750 Fannie, Freddie Limit -- President-elect Barack Obama agreed with House Democrats to increase the limit on loans Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac can purchase to $729,750 in high-cost areas, House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank said.

“We got the approval from the Obama administration,” Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat, said at a hearing today on the Federal Housing Administration. The change would also apply to loans insured by that agency.

The loan limits, which were temporarily raised last year from $417,000 to $729,750, fell to $625,500 on Jan. 1 for the most expensive real estate markets. The limit on so-called conforming loans everywhere else remains at $417,000 in 2009.
Bernie Madoff nails Syracuse carpenters union for millions.

Madoff Exposure Spreads to Labor Union Pension Funds -- The financial carnage coming out of the Bernard Madoff investment scandal is now spreading from charities and wealthy individuals to labor union pension funds. In recent days, several have fessed up to their members their significant exposure to Madoff's investment scheme, which will result in massive losses to their members.

CNBC has learned that one union, the Carpenters local in Syracuse, N.Y., has lost the majority of the $100 million to $150 million it had in pension money because of its dealings with Madoff, people close to the matter said....
MSNBC: Syracuse Carpenter: "I may lose it all."
Syracuse.com: Steamfitters local lost money to Madoff
Wall Street Journal:
Agency Raises Concerns About Car Makers' Pensions -- The government agency that protects pensions for Americans is raising fresh concerns about the repercussions if one or more of the U.S. auto makers were to collapse, saying 1.3 million workers and retirees could see their pensions slashed if that were to happen.

The head of the U.S. Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. acknowledged in an interview that General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co., and Chrysler LLC have well funded pensions according to the standard accounting rules applied by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

But by the PBGC's measures, the pension funds of Detroit's Big Three would be underfunded by as much as $41 billion if one or more of the auto makers went under and killed their pension plans, PBGC Director Charles E. F. Millard said.

"An awful lot of people seem to think these plans are well funded or overfunded," Mr. Millard said in an interview. "Each of these plans is significantly underfunded ...

Calculated Risk

MishTalk - Mike Shedlock

Paul Krugman - NY Times

The Big Picture - Barry Ritholtz

naked capitalism - Yves Smith

Pragmatic Capitalism

Washington's Blog

Safe Haven

Paper Economy

The Daily Reckoning - Australia