Financial Crisis Summit Set for November 15 in Washington

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This is the VOA Special English ECONOMICS REPORT.

Credit markets showed signs of some improvement this week. Interest rates for short-term loans between banks fell, in a sign that banks may be more willing to lend. But stock markets fell on new concerns about company profits.

President Bush invited leaders of the Group of Twenty countries to Washington on November fifteenth to discuss the financial crisis. The group includes leading industrial economies and large developing ones like China and India.

A White House spokeswoman said the leaders will seek a common set of ideas for reform of the world's financial system. The summit is meant to be the first in a series of talks.

This week, the Federal Reserve announced a program to lend up to five hundred forty billion dollars to money market mutual funds. And Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson detailed his department's new capital purchase program. The Treasury will buy two hundred fifty billion dollars worth of nonvoting preferred stock in healthy banks.

HENRY PAULSON: "This is an investment, not an expenditure, and there is no reason to believe that this program will cost taxpayers anything. They will not only own shares that should be paid back with a reasonable return, but also will receive warrants for common shares in participating institutions."

In return, the banks have to restrict pay for top officials. The nation's nine largest banks have already agreed to accept half the money. The money will come from the financial rescue plan passed by Congress.

The aim is to increase lending, but experts predict banks may also use the new capital to buy smaller banks.

Also in Washington, government officials considered new measures to help struggling homeowners. And a congressional committee held a hearing on credit rating agencies and their part in the financial crisis. They underestimated the risk of complex securities based on mortgage loans for people with poor credit histories.

Issuers of securities pay the rating agencies to estimate the risk for investors. The heads of the three major agencies said the failures were honest mistakes, and that they are working to regain trust.

But a former official at Standard & Poor's said, "Profits were running the show." The committee released an instant message exchange in which two Standard & Poor's employees discussed a deal last year. The first wrote: "we should not be rating it." The second answered: "we rate every deal ... it could be structured by cows and we would rate it."

And that's the VOA Special English ECONOMICS REPORT, written by Mario Ritter. I'm Steve Ember.

Voice of America Special English

Source: Financial Crisis Summit Set for November 15 in Washington
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