We want our money back: Obama to Wall St
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Last Updated: Friday, January 15, 2010, 08:57
Washington: As the Wall Street companies have begun generating profits and dolling out hefty bonuses to its executives, US President Barack Obama today said that America now wants its money back which was spent to rescue these firms from economic crisis.

"We want our money back! And we are going to get it," Obama said as he proposed a 'financial crisis responsibility fee' to be imposed on major financial firms until the American people are fully compensated for the extraordinary assistance they provided to Wall Street.

"If these companies are in good enough shape to afford massive bonuses, they are surely in good enough shape to afford paying back every penny to taxpayers," Obama said.

"Now, our estimate is that the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) will end up costing taxpayers around USD 117 billion. Obviously, a lot less than the USD 700 billion that people have feared, but still a lot of money," he added.

"The fee will be in place for 10 years, or as long as it takes to raise the full amount necessary to cover all taxpayer losses," he said, but was quick to clarify that this will not be a cost borne by community banks or small financial firms.

Only the largest firms, with more than USD 50 billion in assets, will be affected.

"And the size of the fee each bank owes will be based on its size and exposure to debt, so that we are recovering tax dollars while promoting reform of the banking practices that contributed to this crisis," he said.

Obama said that the US has endured the deepest recession it has faced in generations, and much of the turmoil was caused by irresponsibility on the part of banks and financial institutions.

"Firms took reckless risks in pursuit of short-term profits and soaring bonuses, triggering a financial crisis that nearly pulled the economy into a second great depression," he said.

These banks were rescued by the tax-payer's money.

Through this fee and broader reforms that US seeks is not to punish Wall Street firms but rather to prevent the abuse and excess that nearly caused the collapse of many of these firms and the financial system itself, he noted.

"We cannot go back to business as usual. And when we see reports of firms once again engaging in risk bets to reap quick rewards, when we see a return to compensation practices that seem not to reflect what the country's been through, all that looks like business as usual to me," Obama said.


First Published: Friday, January 15, 2010, 08:57

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