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Archive for the ‘Regulation’ Category

Contributed by Scott Yeoman, CEO, Central Bank & Trust

At the end of March the U.S. Government announced with some degree of fanfare that the Troubled Asset Relief Program (“TARP”) was positioned to earn the U.S. Treasury, and hence U.S. Taxpayers, a profit of $24 Billion.  The TARP program was much politicized, frequently criticized and very much misunderstood by most people – in large part because it was a complicated program perceived by most as a bailout for fat cat bankers (thanks, President Obama).

At its core, TARP amounted to an emergency loan for those banks that participated in the program.  Being in the business of making and collecting loans, most banks diligently honor their commitments and repay their obligations – just like most individual and business borrowers do – so it is no surprise that the banking industry has repaid their TARP funds ahead of the required payment schedule.  All in all, TARP kept the dominoes from falling off the table and helped restore some stability when it was most needed.  An investment in the banking system was a sound investment for the government in the crisis of 2008 and is a solid investment for private investors in normal times.  But I fear the definition of “normal” may take longer to define.

While the government recovered a profit on TARP, its political reaction to the banking crisis, a.k.a. the Dodd-Frank legislation, is where the lasting costs of the crisis will surface.  Dodd-Frank is a massive, comprehensive reform bill that aspires to cure all the perceived troubles of the financial services industry.  Some of the more obvious consequences of the bill already evident in the market include (more…)

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Contributed by Ron Johnson

Although perhaps I should not have been, I was surprised to read of the Federal Reserve Bank’s decision to prohibit Bank of America from raising its dividend to shareholders by one penny per share.

Certainly the Fed may feel entitled to such a position after injecting TARP funds into BofA in 2008 – but I disagree with their move.  Despite all the rhetoric, the Federal Reserve forced BofA, like many institutions, to take TARP dollars as they desperately tried to stem the tide of bank and financial institution failures.  However, BofA has long since returned its allocation of TARP funds and should be allowed to conduct its business as a business.

Instead Federal regulators are now dictating policy to managers and owners of BofA.  It is concerning to me that, although the shareholders (only 0.5% of whom are insiders) of BofA maintain the financial risk of ownership, the Fed that controls the management of the firm. 

I, for one, am not particularly impressed with our government’s management track record, so I would be strongly in favor of that function being returned to the corporate managers and shareholders of BofA.  Wouldn’t you?

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