WASHINGTON – The U.S. government said Monday it has supplied $33.56 billion to 21 banks in a second round of payments from the $700 billion rescue program, and announced a deadline for another 3,800 banks to apply for funds.
The Treasury Department said a category of privately held banks will have until Dec. 8 to apply for the government to purchase shares of their stock as a way to bolster their balance sheets. The deadline for the larger publicly traded banks was Nov. 14.
The new Dec. 8 deadline will apply to about 3,800 banks that are so-called C-Corps institutions for the part of the tax code that applies to them. Another 2,500 S-Corps institutions also will be able to apply for money, but Treasury has not set the deadline for their applications.
The new deadline was announced as Treasury confirmed a second round of government stock purchases that follow the initial $125 billion it allocated to nine of the country's largest banks. The rescue program now has earmarked payments of $158.56 billion to banks.
Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson announced last week the administration was abandoning the initial centerpiece of the rescue program, the purchase of troubled mortgage-backed securities from banks in an effort to bolster their balance sheets.
That was the only program Paulson mentioned as Congress debated the rescue package, which was approved on Oct. 3. However, Paulson later said the severity of the financial crisis made him realize it would take too long to get the troubled asset program into operation.
In its place, he announced on Oct. 14 that the government would buy shares of bank stock as a way to quickly inject fresh capital into the institutions.
He pressured nine of the largest banks to participate in the program during an Oct. 13 meeting at the Treasury Department, arguing that they should go along with the idea to remove the stigma other banks might feel in getting money from the government.
The rescue program has drawn a significant amount of criticism from lawmakers who have objected to the sudden switch in emphasis and what they see as a lack of restrictions on the funds. The critics contend that banks can simply hoard the fresh capital or use it to pay dividends to their shareholders or acquire other institutions rather than using it to boost their lending.
Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke are scheduled to testify Tuesday before the House Financial Services Committee to answer questions that have been raised about the bailout program.
The Treasury announcement on Monday said the largest stock purchase in the second round was $6.6 billion paid to U.S. Bancorp of Minneapolis. The smallest stock purchase was $9 million paid to Broadway Financial Corp. of Los Angeles.
Many of the banks in the second group of 21 already announced that the government was purchasing stock after they had reached preliminary agreements. Treasury does not make any announcement until after the final legal documents are signed, a process that can take a month from when the preliminary agreements are reached.
The department noted that the $10 billion scheduled to be paid to Merrill Lynch & Co. has been deferred pending the completion of that company's acquisition by Bank of America Corp.