Treasury on Verge of Disbursing $125B, Europeans Likely to Cut Interest Rates

Early this week, the U.S. Treasury will start shelling out $125 billion to the first nine banks that have signed up to receive capital investments from the federal government, according to an statement this morning by David Nason, assistant secretary for financial institutions. The disbursal will be the latest step in a fast-moving sequence of events that was kicked off on Oct. 14 with an announcement by President Bush at the White House. The strategy of purchasing preferred shares in major banks represented a major shift for the Bush administration, toward a more European-style response to the global financial/credit crisis. Nason told CNBC that Treasury finalized its investment agreements yesterday with the nine banks: Bank of America Corp., Bank of New York Mellon Corp., Citigroup Inc., Goldman Sachs Group Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Merrill Lynch & Co., Morgan Stanley, State Street Corp. and Wells Fargo & Co. Meanwhile, additional banks beyond the initial nine, primarily regional players, are signing up to take part in Treasury’s capital-purchase program. The list reportedly includes Fifth Third Bancorp, Cincinnati; Huntington Bancshares Inc., Columbus, Ohio; and KeyCorp, Cleveland. Nason noted that the door is potentially still open for insurers and other companies to receive capital injections, telling CNBC, “We started with the banks because that’s targeted to providing credit to the economy.” And in a speech in Madrid earlier today, Jean-Claude Trichet, president of the European Central Bank, said that the bank’s key rate, which was cut by 50 basis points on Oct. 8, could be trimmed again at the upcoming meeting of its Governing Council on Nov. 6. Trichet, who emphasized that another rate cut is a possibility, not a certainty, did not comment on the size of a possible cut.