Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson is making changes in the seven hundred billion dollar rescue plan for the financial industry.
|Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson speaking to reporters Wednesday in Washington|
The plan passed by Congress last month is called the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP. Secretary Paulson proposed to buy risky housing-related investments from banks. But on Wednesday he announced that the Treasury Department has moved away from the idea of buying troubled assets.
Instead, he says the best way to help financial companies is to provide new capital, such as buying stock He said TARP and other measures have helped to calm financial markets that were in danger of collapse. Now, he wants to use money from the program to help restart the market for securities based on consumer credit.
Secretary Paulson says this market has basically come to a halt. He says this is raising the cost and reducing the availability of car loans, student loans and credit cards. Jobs are also affected. The government says unemployment reached six and a half percent in October -- the highest in fourteen years.
As the financial crisis deepens, more companies have turned to the government for help, including American automakers. Their sales are at the lowest levels in more than twenty years.
Congress approved twenty-five billion dollars in loans to help them build more fuel-efficient vehicles. Now some lawmakers also want to lend them twenty-five billion in financial rescue money. Secretary Paulson has resisted that idea.
The bailout program started with half of the seven hundred billion dollars. The Treasury has already used all but sixty billion. Congress has to agree to release the other half.
Banks and government programs have helped some struggling homeowners reduce their monthly loan payments. But critics say the government is doing more to help the financial industry than to solve the housing crisis weakening the economy.
So far the biggest recipient of aid is the insurance company American International Group. This week A.I.G. reported another huge loss related to home loans, almost twenty-five billion dollars between July and September. The government agreed to increase support for A.I.G. to one hundred fifty billion dollars in loans and stock purchases.
This weekend, leaders from the Group of Twenty countries meet in Washington on how to reform the financial system.
And that's the VOA Special English Economics Report, written by Mario Ritter and archived at voaspecialenglish.com. I'm Steve Ember.