US Banks See Gains; 'Stress Test' Findings Due May 4

Download MP3   (Right-click or option-click the link.)

This is the VOA Special English ECONOMICS REPORT.

American officials say they will publish results on May fourth from a special examination of banks. The purpose was to see if the country's nineteen largest banks could survive losses in the event that the recession got even worse.

The Obama administration announced the so-called stress tests in February as part of efforts to rebuild the trust of investors. If banks are told they need more capital, they will have six months to raise the money from private markets or the government.

Some experts think banks have seen the worst of their losses and that the worst of the financial crisis may already have passed. On Thursday JPMorgan Chase reported more than two billion dollars in profit for the first three months of this year. That was better than expected. Earlier, Goldman Sachs and Wells Fargo also reported strong results.

But the same is not true for the housing market. The Commerce Department reported Thursday that the building of new homes fell in March to the second-lowest level on record.

President Obama warned in a speech on Tuesday that economic pain will continue through this year and that losses of jobs and homes will not end soon.

BARACK OBAMA: "But from where we stand, for the very first time, we are beginning to see glimmers of hope."

The president suggested that the economy could have reached the beginnings of a recovery.

One sign is that the Standard & Poor's list of five hundred stocks has risen more than twenty-five percent in the past five weeks. The S&P hit a twelve-year low in early March. Financial stocks have had some of the largest gains.

All nineteen banks are expected to pass the stress tests. But how the results will be presented is not clear. There is debate over whether releasing too much information might cause more harm than good. Some people might rush to withdraw money from weaker banks.

Yet some small banks have already paid back aid from the government.

The eight largest banks in the country have received about one hundred sixty-five billion dollars in aid. Goldman Sachs received ten billion last October from the Troubled Asset Relief Program. Now it wants to pay that back.

On Tuesday, the bank sold more than five billion dollars in common stock in an effort to pay back the government. That was a day after it announced better-than-expected earnings. By returning the aid, Goldman Sachs could free itself from government limits on pay for top employees.

And that's the VOA Special English ECONOMICS REPORT, written by Mario Ritter. For more business news, go to voaspecialenglish.com.

Voice of America Special English

Source: US Banks See Gains; 'Stress Test' Findings Due May 4
TEXT = http://www.voanews.com/specialenglish/archive/2009-04/2009-04-16-voa4.cfm?renderforprint=1
MP3 = http://www.voanews.com/mediaassets/specialenglish/2009_04/audio/Mp3/se-econ-banks-17apr09_0.Mp3