Sorry!! The article you are trying to read is not available now.
Thank you very much;
you're only a step away from
downloading your reports.

Banks Reject California's IOUs


State faces new problems as creditors turn down promises to pay.

Apparently, IOUs issued by an insolvent state aren't as good as cold, hard cash.

Last week, after state leaders failed to find a solution to an ongoing budget crisis, California began issuing IOUs to banks and other creditors. Now, despite initially agreeing to accept the IOUs in lieu of actual payments, some of the country's biggest banks are refusing to honor the promises to pay past Friday, July 10.

According to the Wall Street Journal, among the newly defiant banks are Citigroup (C), JPMorgan Chase (JPM), Wells Fargo (WFC), and Bank of America (BAC). Along with an announcement yesterday by Fitch Ratings that it had dropped California's credit rating to BBB -- just a few notches above "speculative" levels, this shift in sentiment puts immense pressure on Sacramento to find a lasting solution to the state's woes.

California plans to send out $3 billion in IOUs in July alone. The IOUs mature on October 2, and promise to pay recipients 3.75% in annualized interest -- presumably, in addition to the principal. The state has said that without the IOUs it would run out of cash by the end of July.

Other 49 States Could Go the Way of California

The fear -- although there's no reason to assume this yet -- is that California's other disgruntled creditors will jump on the banks' non-acceptance bandwagon in a show of defiance. This would be a crushing blow to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and California state legislators, potentially forcing them to go hat in hand to Washington for a bailout.

Since 2 of the banks refusing to honor the IOUs are controlled by the federal government (and since the remaining 2 are essentially being run by Washington insiders), the Obama administration's hands-off posture suggests it may be taking one of 2 possible stances.

Obama may be taking the hard line -- sending California the message that the state's political wrangling has to cease given what's at stake. After all, if the nation's most populous state were to run out of cash, the impact on its more than 30 million residents -- not to mention the US economy as a whole -- would likely be severe.

On the other hand, Obama may have a more disturbing goal in mind. It's possible that the administration is considering making a power grab of epic proportions. After all, it's had little compunction about seizing embattled automakers General Motors (GPM) and Chrysler, and hasn't shied away from becoming deeply involved in the day-to-day management of the nation's banks.

Perhaps President Obama's true motive is to wrest control of California away from its languishing leadership, sending the other 49 states a stern message: Get your fiscal houses in order, or get absorbed by the massive bureaucratic machine that is the US government.

Naturally, this latter possibility is pure speculation on my part. But given the President's actions since taking office, and given his apparent desire to expand the reach of the federal government to an extent previously unimaginable, it's not inconceivable.

< Previous
  • 1
Next >
No positions in stocks mentioned.

The information on this website solely reflects the analysis of or opin= =3D =3D3D ion about the performance of securities and financial markets by = the wr=3D iter=3D3D s whose articles appear on the site. The views expresse= d by the wri=3D ters are=3D3D not necessarily the views of Minyanville Medi= a, Inc. or members=3D of its man=3D3D agement. Nothing contained on the web= site is intended to con=3D stitute a recom=3D3D mendation or advice address= ed to an individual investor =3D or category of inve=3D3D stors to purchase= , sell or hold any security, or to =3D take any action with re=3D3D spect t= o the prospective movement of the securit=3D ies markets or to solicit t=3D= 3D he purchase or sale of any security. Any inv=3D estment decisions must b= e made =3D3D by the reader either individually or in =3D consultation with = his or her invest=3D3D ment professional. Minyanville write=3D rs and staff= may trade or hold position=3D3D s in securities that are discuss=3D ed in = articles appearing on the website. Wr=3D3D iters of articles are requir=3D = ed to disclose whether they have a position in =3D3D any stock or fund disc= us=3D sed in an article, but are not permitted to disclos=3D3D e the size o= r direct=3D ion of the position. Nothing on this website is intende=3D3D d = to solicit bus=3D iness of any kind for a writer's business or fund. Mi= ny=3D3D anville mana=3D gement and staff as well as contributing writers wi= ll not respo=3D3D nd to em=3D ails or other communications requesting inves= tment advice.

Copyright 2011 Minyanville Media, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Featured Videos