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Congress Aids Banks After Big Contribs

The massive bailout of the financial system hasn't stopped financiers from airing their views on Capitol Hill -- and it certainly hasn't stopped them from opening their wallets. The Wall Street Journaltakes a look at one lobbying crush in particular -- the push to relax accounting rules that forced banks to use market prices to set prices on some securities they held.

The basic outlines: "Thirty-one financial firms and trade groups formed a coalition and spent $27.6 million in the first quarter lobbying Washington about the rule and other issues. ... They also directed campaign contributions totaling $286,000 to legislators on a key committee, many of whom pushed for the rule change, the filings indicate." Members of that key House panel exerted pressure on the board that sets the rule, and the change was hastened. It gave a boost to first-quarter earnings for some banks and seems likely to have an even wider effect when the banks report second-quarter earnings this summer, the Journal reports. The lawmakers, of course, deny that the contributions had any effect on their positions.

Other links this morning:
Big Banks Are Successful Raising Money after Stress Tests (WSJ)
Promised Help Is Elusive for Some Homeowners (NYT)
Refinancing Boom Aids Lenders (WSJ)
GM Intervention by U.S. Raises Free Trade Questions (Reuters)
Meet the Men Who Are Being Handed the Keys to GM and Chrysler (WaPo)

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