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|Alexander cautious on bank bailout|
U.S. Rep. Rodney Alexander is cautiously optimistic a proposed $700-billion federal bailout of troubled banks will be approved by Congress.
However, Alexander hedged his support for a bailout on a number of factors, including whether hurricane recovery funds are protected first.
"Right now, I'm not sure if our money that is needed for southern Louisiana for hurricane recovery will be in the mix," said Alexander, R-Quitman. "There are just a lot of questions that haven't been answered yet for me to be able to say what my position is going to be on it."
Alexander also said various proposals floating around Washington are, thus far, big on spending but short on details.
"I'm not real sure what all is going to be proposed yet," Alexander said. "There are just rumors flying around. I know what I've read and heard in committee meetings and so forth."
Late last week, President Bush proposed a $700-billion bailout plan to shore up banks and financial institutions hit hard by the sub-prime mortgage crisis.
Speaking from Washington, Bush called the current economic crisis one of the most pressing matters facing the nation. He said the nation might face an economic depression without federal intervention.
Local banker Whitty Hood said the credit crunch facing large investment banks should not affect community banks.
For Ouachita Independent Bank, Hood said it's business as usual.
"We're looking for good loans to make and we're making them every day," said Hood, president of OIB. "There is no credit crunch that I can see."
Hood said much of the media focus on "banks" is misplaced because the current financial crisis is more focused on investment brokerages.
"They keep using the word banks in the headlines but for the most part, the banks aren't the ones that are the targets of the assistance," Hood said.
Hood expressed confidence in the shape of Louisiana banks. He said his customers were in good hands because of the types of business OIB does.
That means the current financial meltdown isn't hurting their business, Hood said.
"I can't speak for all the local banks, but for OIB it doesn't mean anything," Hood said. "We never made any sub-prime loans and the majority of first-time mortgages, we don't keep them in the bank."
Cary Davis, executive vice president and chief risk officer at Community Trust Bank, agreed with Hood that the financial crisis griping the markets was not a local issue.
Davis, though, said the credit markets must be restored. Otherwise, according to Davis, problems affecting Wall Street today will lead to main street America down the road.
"The local community banks are all strong," Davis said. "The FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.) adds another layer of safety."
"The importance, though, of the bailout is it would restore confidence in the credit markets, along with needed liquidity," Davis explained. "It's not a local issue, but we all will be impacted if we don't get our credit markets restored."