An excellent piece from the NY Times over the weekend:
Douglas Leech, the founder and chief executive of Centra Bank, a small West Virginia bank that participated in the capital assistance program but returned the money after the government imposed new conditions, said he complained strongly about the Treasury Department’s decision to demand repayment of the warrants. That effectively raised the interest rate he paid on a $15 million loan to an annual rate of about 60 percent, he said.
“What they did is wrong and fundamentally un-American,” he said. “Even though the government told us to take this money to increase our lending, the extra charge meant we had less money to lend. It was the equivalent of a penalty for early withdrawal.”
Stephanie Cutter, a spokeswoman at the Treasury Department, said it did not comment about the participation of specific banks in the plan or their efforts to exit the program.
Personally, I could give a hoot in hell that these bankers don't like that the government doesn't want to provide them with a reach-around as they try to escape the government shower room where they have been receiving frequent capital injections. Hank Paulson played Vito Coreleone with these bankers last fall, telling them that they had to take capital injections to keep credit flowing. Now, the banks which have been solvent, and will continue to be solvent are forced to pay a large settlement that is equal to a 60% interest charge on the money that was forced on them to get out from under the government's "protection."
Perhaps when these banks were told that they had to do this they could have said, "no." Would that have been so difficult. Saying no to Uncle Sam and telling them that they would allow the market to sustain or destroy them. That is the problem with the bail-out culture that we see ourselves in now. Us plebians could have told anyone of these titans of industry that by getting into bed with Hammerin' Hank and his capital injections would lead to government control over their operations. These bankers should pay the penalty and take it on the chin, proverbially. Government intervention will only lead to more government intervention, as the wheels of bureaucracy can't react to the market the way that a company without political interests can. That is the rub, since these banks have received TARP money, they are political whether they want to be or not. The best outcome is that these banks pay the fine and run as far away from the FEDS as possible