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US Bank Rescue Plan Sends Global Stock Markets Soaring

Global stock markets that had been pummeled earlier in the week soared on Friday on news that a US government agency is to be created to take over the bad loans of U.S.-based commercial banks. VOA's Barry Wood has more.

The action was announced by President Bush and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, who said the bailout could cost several hundred billion dollars. Congress is being asked to approve a yet to be revealed legislative proposal within days. The new agency is likely to be modeled on the Resolution Trust Corporation that disposed of bad commercial and housing loans in the early 1990s. That bail out cost about $150 billion.

The news, initially reported late Thursday, triggered the biggest two-day stock market rally on Wall Street in over 20 years. Shares of financial institutions rose the most as the major indexes gained about four percent, closing just about where they were a week earlier. There were similar rallies in Europe and Asia, including China.

It was a dramatic five days on Wall Street as one major investment bank, Lehman Brothers, was allowed to collapse while a big insurer, AIG, was taken over by the government. Friday's announcement of a plan to remove bad loans from the system followed near panic trading Thursday morning and a fear that additional financial institutions would fail. Global central banks acted together to inject cash into financial systems to facilitate normal credit transactions. A U.S. regulator announced a temporary halt to short-selling the stocks of financial institutions, a practice some believe had contributed to the crisis.

Robert McTeer, a retired president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, says the U.S. government is likely to eventually show a profit from taking over bad loans. "The government is going to make money on all these things. They can purchase assets on the cheap and not have to mark them to market-just hold them to maturity and get full value for them. They can make loans at high interest rates on assets that are fully collateralized and take the time for those loans to be paid back," he said.

McTeer spoke on Bloomberg Television. Others disagree. Republican Senator Richard Shelby says the bailout is likely to cost taxpayers up to $1 trillion. John Bogle, who invented index mutual funds three decades ago, was critical of such a huge government intrusion into the economy. He called the crisis on Wall Street casino capitalism.

Alan Meltzer, a conservative economist at Carnegie Mellon University, said the government's action to bring stability to the market is a socialistic approach that should have been avoided.