European markets moved lower Monday morning and US markets followed suit with all three major indexes opening down nearly 1 percent. The sell-offs were a response to a surprise announcement that bank accounts in Cyprus would be taxed to pay for a much-needed bailout package. In addition, foreign investors raced for ATMs through the morning to empty Cyprian bank accounts to avoid the potential tax, which some say could be as high as 10 percent. The news had European markets down as much as 2 percent, though banks on the island nation kept their doors closed because of a national holiday.
A pair of independent auditors advised Spanish authorities on Thursday that it will need as much as 62 billion euros (about $79 billion) in capital just to save its struggling banks. Spain brought in the independent auditors to determine how much to ask the EU for in bailout funds as it continues to try and fight its way out of a sovereign debt crisis. The estimates came in just hours after a debt auction in which Spain's medium-term borrowing costs rose to their highest levels since the euro was introduced in 1999.
The United States Treasury reduced its stake in American International Group again on Monday, selling $5 billion worth of shares in the bailed-out insurer through a stock offering in which the company would pick buy back about 40 percent of the total shares offered. According to a Treasury spokesman, the agency sold 163.9 million shares at a price of $30.50 each, compared to a closing price on Friday of $32.83 per share. The sale is the third time Treasury has unloaded part of its AIG stake, and reduces its share in the company from 70 percent to 63 percent.
The US Treasury Department announced late Thursday that American International Group has repaid $1.5 billion of its taxpayer bailout, and more than a year ahead of schedule, noting that the government's preferred equity investment in the firm has been repaid in full. Other than mortgage insurance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, AIG required the largest amount of taxpayer assistance during the financial crisis.
US stocks surged Friday morning as investors welcomed a report from the US Labor Department that the economy added a better-than-expected 227,000 jobs in February, but also welcomed news that Greece has cleared the last hurdle to a second bailout by reaching a debt swap agreement with an overwhelming majority of its bondholders. According to officials from the debt-riddled European country, its proposed 74 percent reduction in bond value was accepted by holders of 83.5 percent of the value of its outstanding bonds.
Insurer American International Group Inc announced on Monday it is selling $6 billion of its stake in former subsidiary, Hong Kong-based AIA Group Ltd. The sale is aimed at raising funds to repay government bailout funds which it received in 2008. After the sale, AIG's stake in AIA will be reduced to about 19 percent, according to the statement.
After months of negotiating, officials from the International Monetary Fund have finally reached an agreement to supply debt-stricken Greece with a bailout package of 130 billion euros ($170 billion) to prevent a potential default that would likely result if Greece does not get further assistance. The agreement was announced early Tuesday morning, after negotiators worked with private bondholders for days about taking greater losses on Greek debt.
Ally Financial is reportedly weighing strategic options including a possible sale of part or all of its auto lending and banking business in order to pay back some of the $17 billion in bailout money it received from the US Treasury. The news also lessens the likelihood of an Ally initial public offering, which has been rumored in recent weeks. The US government currently controls some 73 percent of Ally, which is already in the process of selling its mortgage unit, Residential Capital. A source familiar with the company's plans said that sales of other assets could happen within the next few months as well.
European officials said late Thursday that Greece will have to make more spending cuts to receive a badly needed bailout package of 130 billion euros. Greek officials have spent this week haggling over a number of spending cuts, finalizing a deal on Wednesday. But when Greece's finance minister presented the cuts to a group of European finance ministers on Thursday, they said that more cuts must be made to get Greece's staggering debt load under control and its economy back on track.
Greek officials announced on Thursday they have reached an agreement on austerity measures that are a required first step to the nation receiving further financial aid. The nation's Prime Minister, Lucas Papademos, noted in a statement that there is “general agreement” on a series of public spending cuts set as a precondition for the nation to receive a 130 billion euro bailout package from the European Union, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank.