Geithner's Defense: Bailouts Need Exit Strategy

Speaking before the bailout program’s Congressional Oversight Panel, U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner defended his extension of the program through October by outlining a four-part exit strategy he called crucial to economic recovery. “I can report significant improvements in our financial markets and economy, as well as the positive financial results” of the bailout programs, Geithner said. “However, our job is far from finished. History suggests that exiting too soon from policies designed to contain a financial crisis can significantly prolong an economic downturn.”

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Report: Foreclosure Filings Hit 306K Properties Last Month

Foreclosure filings — default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions — hit 306,627 U.S. properties in November, the ninth straight month of 300,000-plus filings, reported RealtyTrac, an online marketplace for foreclosures. One in every 417 U.S. housing units received a foreclosure filing in November, the report said.

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Treasury Projects $19B Profit from 'Bank Investments'

Bank of America has repaid it’s $45 billion portion of bailout money, bringing the total bank repayments to U.S. coffers to $118 billion, the U.S. Treasury said today. Moreover, the Treasury projects a $19 billion profit from its “bank investments” – stemming from the various bailout programs designed to stabilize the financial sector.

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Oversight Panel: Bailout Flawed; Mortgage Help Failing

In a mostly critical report on the Treasury’s bailout efforts, a Congressionally-appointed oversight panel today called government efforts to steer howeowners away from foreclosure as inadequate. The panel also said tight credit conditions prevail as banks withold capital against future losses. “TARP was an important part of a broader government strategy that stabilized the U.S. financial system,” the report said. “It is apparent after 14 months, however, that significant underlying weaknesses in the financial system remain.”

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New Bailout Focus: Small Business Credit, Foreclosures

The government’s bailout program is working and costing taxpayers less than anticipated – but will be extended until October 2010 to help more small businesses secure credit and rescue more homeowners from foreclosure, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said today. The bailout program extension would also serve as a safegaurd against any “immediate and substantial threat to the economy stemming from financial instability,” he said.

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Chase Reports 83K Permanent Mortgage Modifications

Banking giant Chase today said it has offered more than 568,000 mortgage modifications – more than $100 billion in loans – to struggling homeowners hoping to avoid foreclosure in 2009. Chase, the nation’s largest credit card issuer, also reported that of those modifications, more than 83,000 have become permanent.

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Treasury Sees Short Sales as Key to Slowing Foreclosures

Now fueled to a growing degree by prime borrowers, the foreclosure crisis is not abating, and U.S. Treasury officials are hoping new incentives will accelerate short sales and other alternatives to rescue homeowners. Starting on April 30, amendments to the government’s Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) will offer new incentives to lenders to accelerate short sales or DILs.

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Bank of America to Repay Its $45B in Bailout Funds

Financial giant Bank of America will repay the $45 billion it received in taxpayer funds as part of the Troubled Asset Relief Program, BofA announced today after reaching an agreement with the U.S. Treasury. “We appreciate the critical role that the U.S. government played last fall in helping to stabilize financial markets, and we are pleased to be able to fully repay the investment, with interest,” said Kenneth D. Lewis, chief executive officer and president.

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