Friday, October 3, 2008

California is having trouble raising money

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California may need an emergency loan of up to $7 billion from the federal government within weeks, the Los Angeles Times on Friday quoted Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger as saying in a letter to U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.
In the letter dated Oct. 2, Schwarzenegger called for the passage of the $700 billion financial industry bailout plan which the U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote on on Friday, the Times said.
"Absent a clear resolution to this financial crisis, California and other states may be unable to obtain the necessary level of financing to maintain government operations and may be forced to turn to the federal treasury for short-term financing," Schwarzenegger wrote in the letter, according to the paper.
A top Schwarzenegger aide followed up the letter with a call to the Treasury secretary on Thursday night, the paper said.
The California governor's office and the U.S. Treasury department could not immediately be reached for comment.
Credit markets worldwide have frozen up in the two weeks since the failure of U.S. investment bank Lehman Brothers, prompting concerns that issuers will run into trouble rolling over previous loans.
In the letter, Schwarzenegger noted California's plans to issue $7 billion in revenue anticipation notes in the coming days to fund short-tern cash needs -- now put in doubt by the crisis in the credit markets.
On Wednesday, California Treasurer Bill Lockyer said the most populous U.S. state's cash reserves may be exhausted near the end of October, and various state-funded services are at risk of grinding to a halt. He said the planned notes sale was at risk from the uncertainty gripping financial markets and the U.S. government's lack of response to it.
Lockyer, who manages the bonds of the biggest issuer of public debt in the United States, said the credit market was simply frozen because financial institutions were afraid to commit capital amid enormous uncertainty.
"The economic fallout from this national credit crisis continues to drain state tax coffers, making it even more difficult to weather the continuation of frozen credit markets for any length of time. I will continue to do all I can to encourage the passage of the emergency rescue plan," Schwarzenegger wrote

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Large manufacturers have started to see their customers pull back "just in the past few weeks," due to difficulties with credit, said Daniel Meckstroth, chief economist at MAPI/Manufacturers Alliance, a research group. The jobs and manufacturing reports disappointed Wall Street. The Dow dropped 348 points and the S&P 500 fell 47 points. The negative economic reports could also add pressure on the Federal Reserve to cut its benchmark interest rate in an effort to bolster the economy. Many economists think the Fed could even move before its next meeting Oct. 28. Credit markets, meanwhile, remained locked up as banks are wary of lending to each other, unsure of which might be the next to collapse. The London Interbank Offered Rate, or LIBOR, for 3-month dollar loans rose to 4.21 percent Thursday from 4.15 percent the day before. The LIBOR is the rate many banks charge each other for overnight loans and is used as a benchmark for trillions of dollars of auto, student and other consumer loans. Martin Regalia, chief economist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said the higher short-term rates for banks make credit harder to get for everyone else. "When you build a dam upstream, you don't get any water downstream," he said. __

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