April 20th, 2009
06:35 PM ET
5 years ago

Banks: Let us return the money

(CNN) - One might think the government would automatically embrace requests from several of the nation's largest banks to return the bailout money they received last fall. Not so fast. JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley and at least four other others have indicated they would like to return the almost $95 billion they jointly get in TARP (Troubled Assets Relief Program) funds.

The Treasury Department will have to give the OK to their requests. And before that happens the government will look at the financial health of the companies to make sure they can afford to give it back. Specifically, an administration official tells CNN regulators will want to make sure the bank is stable; returning the money would not cause any ripple effects which would deepen the recession; and to make sure the institutions have enough capital to keep loans going.

The TARP program has never been popular with the many of the banks or with the American public. Just last week Treasury reported participating banks have not increased their lending. However, experts believe it has helped stabilize the banking industry at a key time of uncertainty last year.

Now showcasing healthy profits for the first quarters the banks are stepping up their efforts to give back the loans. Jamie Dimon, the CEO and Chairman of JPMorgan Chase, last week called the program "a scarlet letter" and said on a conference call with investment analysts "We're...certainly not going to borrow from the federal government because we've learned our lesson about that."

Many of the banks believe keeping the bailout money will hurt business marking their banks as weak.

Also executives are eager to rid themselves of the restrictions attached, such as limits on executive compensation.
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Filed under: Economy • TARP • Treasury
February 25th, 2009
03:59 PM ET
5 years ago

Orszag emerges from behind the scenes as budget is unveiled

OMB Director Peter Orszag, to the right of President Obama, attends a meeting in the Oval Office.
OMB Director Peter Orszag, to the right of President Obama, attends a meeting in the Oval Office.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - At 40, Peter Orszag is the youngest member of the Obama Cabinet and one of People magazine's "hottest." These days he's also front and center of the president's key policy initiatives.

Orszag, director of the Office of Budget and Management, will present the White House's first budget blueprint on Thursday. It will include spending cuts and the expiration of the Bush tax cuts, beginning the effort to halve the nation's deficit by the end of President Obama's first term.

Watch Obama lay out his budget priorities

In an interview in his White House office, Orszag told CNN, "We are not going to play the games that have been played in the past ... pretending that there will never be another hurricane, natural disaster... or assuming that a war can be ended instantaneously and there is no need to budget out your costs."

That means cuts to many departments. It's his job to inform Cabinet members about coming trims, which is why OMB directors sometimes have been called hatchet men.

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Filed under: Peter Orszag
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