Thursday, January 7, 2010

BAIL-OUTS AND BUY-OUTS


As posted by Dr. Mahathir Mohamad at Che Det on January 7, 2010 8:56 AM

1. When the currencies of East Asia were being devalued in 1997-98 the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank offered to help with loans. However the offer was conditional.

2. The countries must open their economies to foreign capital including the buying up of their businesses by foreigners.

3. The effect of currency devaluation is to reduce the value of the countries' business in terms of foreign (US Dollar) currency. In addition the financial crisis would make the businesses less profitable or unprofitable so that their market value in local currency would be depressed.

4. For example if the local business is worth RM100 million in local currency, equivalent to US40 million at 2.5 Ringgit to the US Dollar, a devaluation to five Ringgit to the US Dollar would bring down the value of the business to US20 million.

5. If because of the crisis the value of the business in the local currency falls by 30 per cent i.e. to 70 million Ringgit, then the foreign buyer need to pay only 14 million in US currency.

6. Thus a business that was worth US40 million Dollars could be bought for only US14 million Dollars because of the effect of devaluing the currency by 50 per cent.

7. Obviously if foreign capital was allowed to buy local businesses at the time of the financial crisis, it would have acquired the local business very, very cheaply.

8. If after they had bought all the banks and businesses at these low prices, the devaluation of the currency is stopped, the value of the entities acquired by the foreigners would recover. They could then sell their acquisitions at a high price and make large profits.

9. We must not suspect that the IMF and the World Bank was collaborating with these foreign investors to rape the countries concerned. They are too honorable. But the fact remains that the condition that the domestic market must be open to foreign investors brought about the results stated above.

10. Malaysia decided not to borrow from the IMF and not to open its market. We decided to bailout our companies which were in distress.

11. Bailout means putting in money to revive the business but the ownership of the business remains with the original owner. That is what the US Government did when their banks were going bankrupt. The ownership of the banks and businesses bailed out by the US Government remained with the original owners.

12. But when foreign or local capital bought up the failed or distressed companies, they were not bailing out these companies. They were simply taking advantage of the financial problems of the companies to buy at fire-sale prices.

13. Frequently the amount the owners get for the sale of their businesses were not sufficient for payment of their debts even.

14. This is what is meant by a buyout. The owners were forced to part with their businesses at a loss. This is not a bailout.

15. It is important to understand the difference. Very frequently those who want to bad-mouth certain people would accuse them of being bailed out when they were in fact being forced to accept a buyout at fire-sale prices because of the distress caused by the devaluation of the currency.

16. The US Government bailed out the failed banks and businesses with trillions of dollars during the present crisis. Yet the United States and their media condemned the countries of East Asia for doing the same on a smaller scale. This is a blatant example of double standards and hypocrisy of monumental proportions.