Banks’ ‘Catatonic Fear’ means consumers don’t get TARP (Any) relief

January 5, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Industry News 

No doubt, with the direction the economy is going, it is no surprise that now banks are tightening their lending standards because borrowers are becoming less and less credit worthy.  How could I make a loan to someone that might lose their job tomorrow and have confidence it will be paid back?  You don’t and that is why all this credit is being given out but not extended.  Until we let this markets take their course this problem will not go away at all.

News:

As the new owner of $172.5 billion of preferred shares and warrants in 208 U.S. financial institutions, the Treasury Department hasn’t succeeded in thawing frozen credit markets, leaving taxpayers propping up an industry that won’t lend to them.

While inter-bank lending rates have fallen since Congress approved the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program on Oct. 3, most bank lending to consumers remains tight and interest rates high. The average credit-card rate was 14.33 percent on Dec. 16, according to IndexCreditCards.com in Cleveland, almost unchanged from 14.41 percent in October 2007.

That’s prompted criticism from Alan S. Blinder, a professor of economics at Princeton University in New Jersey and a former Federal Reserve vice chairman, who says the government should take a more active role as a stakeholder in the nation’s banks.

“With the banks in a state of catatonic fear now, they’re just sitting on the capital,” Blinder said in an interview. “I don’t fault the banks one bit, since this shows Wall Street they’re safer, but then this doesn’t get you much improvement. If you’re taking money from the public purse, we should get something in return, and we’re really not.”

Jeffrey Garten, a professor of international trade and finance at the Yale School of Management in New Haven, Connecticut, and a Commerce Department undersecretary during the Clinton administration, says banks should be forced to increase their lending or risk having taxpayer money taken away.

“The government isn’t acting aggressively enough to demand a quid pro quo,” Garten said. “The public good is the key to the private good in this case. It’s not the other way around.”     

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