Page last updated at 13:11 GMT, Friday, 26 September 2008 14:11 UK

Wall Street rescue deal stalemate

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on ABC Good Morning America

Talks to agree a huge $700bn (380bn) bail-out of the US financial industry have ended in a "shouting match".

After several hours of discussions with President George W Bush, a group of Republican members of Congress blocked the government plan.

The proposal would have seen the government buy bad debts from US banks to prevent more of them collapsing.

President Bush is due to make a statement about the negotiations at 0935 in Washington (1435 BST).

Both sides have agreed to resume talks later on Friday. The leader of the Democrats in the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, told ABC News that she "hoped" a bailout plan could be agreed within 24 hours, because "it has to happen".

Financial markets are gummed up because banks do not know exactly how much bad debt they hold and are therefore reluctant to lend to businesses, consumers and each other.

The fall-out of this credit crunch continues to make a huge impact:

  • The United States suffered its largest bank failure yet, when regulators moved in to close down Washington Mutual and then sold it to US rival JP Morgan Chase for $1.9bn
  • In a co-ordinated move the European Central Bank, the US Federal Reserve, the Bank of England, Bank of Japan and the Swiss National Bank announced new short-term loans to the banking sector worth tens of billions of dollars
  • Banks continued to cut costs, with UK banking giant HSBC saying it would axe 1,100 jobs
  • Shares in UK bank Bradford & Bingley fell another 20% to 17 pence before recovering slightly.

'Full throated discussion'

On Thursday, Democratic and Republican legislators appeared to have struck a deal.

A group of Democrats and Republicans even made a public statement, with Senator Christopher Dodd, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, announcing that they had reached "fundamental agreement" on the principles of a bail-out plan.

President Bush has lost authority to an extent that must be unprecedented in modern times
Justin Webb
North America editor

But after the White House meeting, the top Republican on the committee, Richard Shelby, told reporters: "I don't believe we have an agreement."

The intense discussions reportedly saw US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson literally down on one knee, begging Ms Pelosi to help push through the bail-out package.

However, the agreement unravelled when a group of Republican legislators objected to the principle of the plan.

The talks at the White House, led by Mr Paulson and US President George W Bush, then descended into what one participant described as "a full-throated discussion".

Officials with the campaign team of Republican presidential candidate John McCain spoke of "a contentious shouting match".

The Republican critics of the bail-out plan worry about both its cost and how it would involve the government in the financial sector. Instead, they want a government-backed insurance policy for the huge amounts of bad debt built up by US banks.

This proposal, however, was described as "unworkable" both by Democratic politicians and some US government officials.

Doubts over presidential debate

Some Democrats were scathing about the lack of support for the Paulson plan.

FROM THE TODAY PROGRAMME

"For House Republicans to take a walk is just appalling," said Democrat Barney Frank.

He later added that the passage of the bill depended on the Republicans.

"It depends on the House Republicans dropping this revolt against the president and cooperating in trying to amend the plan," he said.

The breakdown of talks has put a huge question mark over the first debate in the presidential election campaign in the US.

Democratic candidate Barack Obama and Mr McCain were supposed to meet in Oxford, Mississippi.

But Mr McCain said he wanted to pull out and focus on getting a bailout plan agreed instead. Democrats accused him of posturing and avoiding telling voters how he would solve the crisis.

Bank failure

As the credit crunch continues to bite, regulators moved in and shut down Washington Mutual (WaMu), one of the largest savings and loan institutions in the US. Depositors had withdrawn $16.7bn from the bank during the past 10 days alone.

HAVE YOUR SAY
$700bn should pay off a lot of mortgages - bail the people out not the companies
Wen Wy, London

They immediately sold on the bank to banking giant JPMorgan Chase for $1.9bn.

"With insufficient liquidity to meet its obligations, WaMu was in an unsafe and unsound condition to transact business," said the Office of Thrift Supervision.

WaMu had seen its share price drop by more than 80% this year, after suffering considerable losses due to failed mortgages. Earlier this year JPMorgan Chase also bought investment bank Bear Stearns when it faced collapse.




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