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This Bailout Doesnt Pay Dividends
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of New York Times

New York Times, October 21, 2008
Posted: November 14th, 2008

Secretary Paulson [has been] described as playing the role of the Godfather, making the banks [a bailout] offer they could not refuse. But in one important respect, he was more Santa Claus than Vito Corleone: the agreement allowed the banks to continue paying dividends to common shareholders. These dividends, if they are paid at current levels, will redirect more than $25 billion of the $125 billion to shareholders in the next year alone. A significant fraction of [the bailout] money will wind up in shareholders pockets and thus be unavailable to plug the large capital hole on the banks balance sheets. The officers and directors of the nine banks will be among the leading beneficiaries of the dividend payout. Their personal take of the dividends will amount to approximately $250 million in the first year. Why would the banks want to maintain large dividend payouts when theyve had such a hard time borrowing, are starved of cash, and the credit markets believe that they run a significant risk of defaulting? Shouldnt these distressed banks be marshalling all of the financial resources available to them to ensure their viability? Heres why: Each dollar paid out as a dividend today is a dollar that cannot be seized by creditors in the event of bankruptcy. For a distressed company, dividends are not in the interest of the enterprise as a whole (shareholders and lenders taken together), but only in the interest of shareholders. They are an attempt by shareholders to beat creditors out the door. The government should close the door by putting an immediate stop to the dividend payouts of any banks receiving direct federal support.

Note: Is the fox guarding the hen house? For many revealing, reliable reports on the banking bailout, click here.

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