Saving the Banks

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  Citigroup Center is seen in New York, Monday, Feb. 23, 2009. Citigroup Inc. has approached banking regulators about ways the government could help strengthen the bank, including the stock conversion plan, according to people familiar with the discussions. (AP)
Citigroup Center is seen in New York on Monday, Feb. 23, 2009. (AP)

America’s big banks — most of them — are still there. The signs are out front. The ads are on TV.

But get down in their books, and some of America’s biggest banks are in serious trouble. Not enough capital — even after massive public bailout billions — to really do business. Zombie banks, they’re being called.

This week, the Obama administration is launching “stress tests” on the banks to see what they need to come fully back to life. And then what? Nationalization? More public billions? Are they too big to fail?

This hour, On Point: Saving the banks.

You can join the conversation. What accountability do you want from banks that are getting your tax dollars? What do you think when you hear “nationalization?”Guests:

Joining us from New York is Stephen Gandel, senior writer at Time magazine. His new piece is “Can Your Bank Pass the Stress Test?”

Joining us from Philadelphia is Franklin Allen. He’s a professor of finance and economics at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton school, and co-director of Wharton’s Financial Institutions Center.

With us from New York is Roy Smith. He’s a professor of entrepreneurship and finance at New York University’s Stern School of Business, and a former partner at Goldman Sachs.

And with us from Washington DC is Joe Klein, columnist for Time magazine and author of “Politics Lost: How American Democracy Was Trivialized by People Who Think You’re Stupid.” He’s also the author (as Anonymous) of the novel “Primary Colors,” a fictionalized account of Bill Clinton’s first presidential campaign in 1992.

More Links:

The Wall Street Journal explains the basics of "nationalization."

This program aired on February 24, 2009.


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