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« The Illusion of Voting Integrity | Main | You Call This Capitalism? »

A Day Late, A Billion Dollars Short - Maybe

After forcibly nationalizing the banks in all but name, redistributing ownership of GM and Chrysler, and making noises about the necessity of absorbing GMAC, speculation was that the insurance companies are next.

And sure enough, today, the government announced that it was freeing up $22,000,000,000 for insurers who had applied for TARP funds back when they were supposed to be used for buying up toxic assets.

Now, having seen what happens to cities that make deals with the Empire companies that make deals with this administration, at least two of the insurance companies are putting the money down and backing away from the table, while two more are likely to do so. Prudential and Ameriprise are expected to say, thanks but no thanks, and Allstate and Principle are also looking at the money like a side-dish they hadn't ordered, although, of course, they had. Only Hartford and Lincoln(!) seem willing to take the cash.

It's hard to blame the reluctant four, as they have seen banks refused the opportunity to repay their, "loans," contracts broken, officers fired, budgets rewritten, and now talk of salaries being determined in DC. We now know that banks and their officers were threatened with audits, and pension funds and other bondholders with public "shaming," a la the AIG employees who stayed on to wind down the derivatives division. (No such fate seems to attach to any employee of Fannie or Freddie, but that's a subject for another day.)

That two companies are giving into temptation is might disappointing, but hardly surprising, as companies almost never keep a united front against government plans, whatever they may be. And I suspect that we haven't heard the last of this yet. The Obama Administration will almost certainly try to threaten and browbeat the reluctant insurers into taking the cash, or of finding ways to preference their competitors who do. Hopefully the holdouts will continue to do so.

If so, I know who I'll be using to insure my new Ford, when I need a new car.

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