Tag: Add new tag

On October 13 2008 – a public holiday in the US – the Treasury Secretary of the day, Henry “Hank” Paulson, summoned bank bosses to a meeting and made them an offer they couldn’t refuse: $125bn of taxpayers’ money in exchange for equity in nine US banks. Some banks, such as Citigroup and JP Morgan, received as much as $25bn each. The Treasury also guaranteed new issues of bank debt. It was a bail-out of enormous value to bank shareholders and bondholders, so it can hardly be a surprise that the Obama administration is planning to try to get the money back with some kind of levy.

But how much did the banks benefit from Hank Paulson’s “gift”? Did the policy have the desired effect? If so, why? All these questions are answered in research carried out by Pietro Veronesi and Luigi Zingales, economists at the University of Chicago, updated last month. One fascinating conclusion is that Paulson, a former chief executive of Goldman Sachs, may have missed a huge money-making opportunity.

The plan apparently stabilised the financial system in the short run; in the long run, it may have the opposite effect by encouraging some future generation of bankers to take more risks. Both these effects are impossible to quantify.

The remainder of the article can be read here. Please post comments below.

The Undercover Economist: a guide

Publishing schedule: Excerpts from "The Undercover Economist" and "Dear Economist", Tim's weekly columns for the FT Magazine, are published on this blog on Saturday mornings.
More about Tim: Tim also writes editorials for the FT, presents Radio 4's More or Less and is the author of "The Undercover Economist" and "The Logic of Life".
Comment: To comment, please register with FT.com, which you can do for free here. Please also read our comments policy here.
Contact: Tim's contact address is: economist@ft.com
Time: UK time is shown on posts.
Follow: A link to the blog's RSS feeds is at the top of the page.
Follow on Twitter
FT blogs: See the full range of the FT's blogs here.