Economy > Bailout
L to R:
Chancellor Alistair Darling,
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown,
three 'fat cats'.
Boston, MA, The Boston Herald
1 December 2008
R: Uncle Sam = USA
governments-to-buy-bank-stakes-stocks-soar-idUSTRE49A36O20081013 - October
Covid-19 outbreak /
pandemic > bailout USA
the-bailout-is-working-for-the-rich - May 10, 2020
with-little-accountability - April 7, 2020
seek (a) $4 billion federal bailout
November 2010 - April 2011 UK
financial crisis > USA > bank bailout
bailout / bail-out USA
bailout / bail-out USA
September / October 2008
International Group Inc. AIG
was the largest insurance company
in the United States
before it suddenly collapsed
in September 2008
under the weight of bad bets it
insuring mortgage-backed securities.
The company was bailed out
by the Federal Reserve,
but even after
infusion of $85 billion,
losses continued to grow.
The later rescue packages
brought the total to $182 billion,
making it the
biggest federal bailout
in United States history.
fails to calm nervy markets
• FTSE 100 down 2%; Dow loses 1%
• Euro slides to two-month low against US dollar
• Cost of insuring Spanish and Portuguese debt
hits record high
Monday 29 November 2010
Jill Treanor and Julia Kollewe
This article was published
on guardian.co.uk at 19.35 GMT
on Monday 29 November
A version appeared on p28
of the Main section section of the Guardian
30 November 2010.
It was last modified at 01.30 GMT
on Tuesday 30 November 2010.
It was first
published at 10.40 GMT
on Monday 29 November 2010.
Stocks fell on both sides of the Atlantic, the euro tumbled, and the cost of
borrowing for Ireland, Spain and Portugal jumped today, as details of the
republic's €85bn (£72bn) bailout failed to quell anxiety that the crisis in the
eurozone was deepening.
Amid speculation that the European authorities may be left with little option
but to embark on large-scale quantitative easing to try to bolster sentiment,
Ireland's borrowing costs shot as high as 9.6% as the terms of its bailout by
the International Monetary Fund and European Union were digested by investors.
"The bottom line is that the financial markets are unimpressed, and that's the
most generous description," Neil MacKinnon, global macro strategist at VTB
Capital told Associated Press. "The crisis rumbles on."
Only two shares in the FTSE 100, Barclays and HSBC, ended the day in positive
territory as the blue-chip index closed below 5600 for the first time since 1
October, down 2% at 5550.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 39.51 points to 11,052.49, and the euro
slid to a new two-month low against the dollar of $1.3065 amid concerns about
the long-term future of the decade-old single currency.
The cost of borrowing for the peripheral eurozone countries stayed stubbornly
high, with Portugual above 7% and Spain above 5%, as speculation focused on the
next indebted country which might need financial help. Italy endured its biggest
one day rise in borrowing costs for a decade.
The cost of insuring Portuguese debt against default rose to a record high after
Nouriel Roubini, economics professor and chairman of Roubini Global Economics,
urged Lisbon to take international assistance. "Like it or not, Portugal is
reaching the critical point," Roubini told the Portuguese newspaper Diário
Económico. "Perhaps it could be a good idea to ask for a bailout in a
Ireland's bailout failed to dent fears of contagion across the eurozone despite
rallying cries by France's economy minister Christine Lagarde and Germany's
finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble, who both insisted Portugal would not need
help. Andrew Lim, head of financials research at Matrix investment bank, said:
"The Irish bailout doesn't solve the euro problem … We are looking at Portugal,
then Spain next."
The fragility in the markets led to speculation that the European Central Bank
will delay attempts to begin withdrawing funds for banks at its meeting on
Thursday, even though the €35bn earmarked for Ireland's banks was intended to
wean them off the ECB's life support.
Analysts said although the Ireland bailout had been accompanied by plans for new
ways to rescue troubled eurozone countries after 2013, when the current
emergency schemes run out, investors had been left confused. It was still not
clear in what circumstances bondholders would be expected to share the losses of
countries that were allowed to reschedule their debt after 2013 – in effect
"Given the lack of clarity about what constitutes the appearance of insolvency,
and what type of restructuring might occur in such a case, markets are likely to
remain wary of holding government debt issued by other troubled eurozone
countries like Portugal and Spain," said Ben May, European economist at Capital
"With huge political frictions still clearly in place within the region, fears
of a future break-up of the region look set to remain, placing further downward
pressure on the euro."
The bailout for Ireland is intended to ensure that neither the country nor its
banks will default on their debt. The decision by the authorities to ensure that
the possibility of default was reduced was initially welcomed. Gary Jenkins,
head of fixed income research at Evolution Securities, said: "This is not the
time to inject panic into the banking sector."
Greece, the first eurozone country to be bailed out, was today given until 2021
to repay its €110bn loan from the IMF and EU, rather than 2015.
Greece's finance minister George Papaconstantinou said: "We have a grace period
of four years and a repayment period of seven years.
"The decision is very important, it opens the way to return to markets earlier
Ireland bailout fails to
calm nervy markets,
Bailout to Nowhere
November 14, 2008
The New York Times
By DAVID BROOKS
Not so long ago, corporate giants with names like PanAm, ITT
and Montgomery Ward roamed the earth. They faded and were replaced by new
companies with names like Microsoft, Southwest Airlines and Target. The U.S.
became famous for this pattern of decay and new growth. Over time, American
government built a bigger safety net so workers could survive the vicissitudes
of this creative destruction — with unemployment insurance and soon, one hopes,
health care security. But the government has generally not interfered in the
dynamic process itself, which is the source of the country’s prosperity.
But this, apparently, is about to change. Democrats from Barack Obama to Nancy
Pelosi want to grant immortality to General Motors, Chrysler and Ford. They have
decided to follow an earlier $25 billion loan with a $50 billion bailout, which
would inevitably be followed by more billions later, because if these companies
are not permitted to go bankrupt now, they never will be.
This is a different sort of endeavor than the $750 billion bailout of Wall
Street. That money was used to save the financial system itself. It was used to
save the capital markets on which the process of creative destruction depends.
Granting immortality to Detroit’s Big Three does not enhance creative
destruction. It retards it. It crosses a line, a bright line. It is not about
saving a system; there will still be cars made and sold in America. It is about
saving politically powerful corporations. A Detroit bailout would set a
precedent for every single politically connected corporation in America. There
already is a long line of lobbyists bidding for federal money. If Detroit gets
money, then everyone would have a case. After all, are the employees of Circuit
City or the newspaper industry inferior to the employees of Chrysler?
It is all a reminder that the biggest threat to a healthy economy is not the
socialists of campaign lore. It’s C.E.O.’s. It’s politically powerful crony
capitalists who use their influence to create a stagnant corporate welfare
If ever the market has rendered a just verdict, it is the one rendered on G.M.
and Chrysler. These companies are not innocent victims of this crisis. To read
the expert literature on these companies is to read a long litany of
miscalculation. Some experts mention the management blunders, some the union
contracts and the legacy costs, some the years of poor car design and some the
entrenched corporate cultures.
There seems to be no one who believes the companies are viable without radical
change. A federal cash infusion will not infuse wisdom into management. It will
not reduce labor costs. It will not attract talented new employees. As Megan
McArdle of The Atlantic wittily put it, “Working for the Big Three magically
combines vast corporate bureaucracy and job insecurity in one completely
In short, a bailout will not solve anything — just postpone things. If this goes
through, Big Three executives will make decisions knowing that whatever happens,
Uncle Sam will bail them out — just like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. In the
meantime, capital that could have gone to successful companies and programs will
be directed toward companies with a history of using it badly.
The second part of Obama’s plan is the creation of an auto czar with vague
duties. Other smart people have called for such a czar to reorganize the
companies and force the companies to fully embrace green technology and other
That would be great, but if Obama was such a fervent believer in the Chinese
model of all-powerful technocrats, he should have mentioned it during the
campaign. Are we really to believe there exists a czar omniscient, omnipotent
and beneficent enough to know how to fix the Big Three? Who is this deity? Are
we to believe that political influence will miraculously disappear, that the
czar would have absolute power over unions, management, Congress and the White
This is an excruciatingly hard call. A case could be made for keeping the Big
Three afloat as a jobs program until the economy gets better and then letting
them go bankrupt. But the most persuasive experts argue that bankruptcy is the
least horrible option. Airline, steel and retail companies have gone through
bankruptcy proceedings and adjusted. It would be a less politically tainted
process. Government could use that $50 billion — and more — to help the workers
who are going to be displaced no matter what.
But the larger principle is over the nature of America’s political system. Is
this country going to slide into progressive corporatism, a merger of corporate
and federal power that will inevitably stifle competition, empower corporate and
federal bureaucrats and protect entrenched interests? Or is the U.S. going to
stick with its historic model: Helping workers weather the storms of a dynamic
economy, but preserving the dynamism that is the core of the country’s success.
Bailout to Nowhere,
Plan Wins Approval;
Democrats Vow Tighter Rules
The New York Times
By DAVID M. HERSZENHORN
— After the House reversed course and gave final approval to the $700 billion
economic bailout package, President Bush quickly signed it into law on Friday,
authorizing the Treasury to undertake what could become the most expensive
government intervention in history.
But even as Mr. Bush declared that the measure would “help prevent the crisis on
Wall Street from becoming a crisis in communities across our country,”
Congressional Democrats said that it was only a first step and pledged to carry
out a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s financial regulatory system.
The final tally in the House was 263 to 171, with 91 Republicans joining 172
Democrats in favor. That was a wider bipartisan majority than vote-counters in
both parties had expected, completing a remarkable turnabout from Monday, when
the House defeated an earlier version of the bill by 228 to 205.
The financial markets, however, were not enthusiastic. Already weighed down by
another round of bleak economic data, including a report showing that 159,000
jobs were lost in September, the Dow fell 157 points to close at 10,325, or
nearly 818 points lower than when the week began, before the House’s initial
rejection of the bailout.
Some measures of the credit markets improved after the bill was approved, but
only modestly. Analysts said it was too soon to tell whether borrowing rates —
the interest rates banks charge each other for loans, and a key indicator of the
flow of credit — would fall.
The change in course by the House was prompted by fears of a global economic
meltdown, and by old-fashioned political inducements added by the Senate: a
portfolio of $150 billion in popular tax provisions, including credits for the
production of solar, wind and other renewable energy, and an adjustment to spare
middle-class families from paying the alternative minimum tax.
In the end, 33 Democrats and 24 Republicans who had voted no on Monday switched
sides on Friday to support the plan. Both Mr. Obama and his Republican rival,
Senator John McCain, voted for the measure when the Senate approved it on
Wednesday, and both hailed Friday’s outcome.
Mr. McCain said that lawmakers had acted “in the best interests of the nation,”
while Mr. Obama warned that “a long and difficult road to recovery” might still
In a sign of the urgency surrounding the economic rescue effort, Congressional
staff rushed the newly printed legislation into a news conference where
Democratic leaders gathered after the vote. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, of California,
signed it at 2 p.m., and it was sent to the White House for Mr. Bush’s
Appearing in the Rose Garden, Mr. Bush praised Congress for acting just two
weeks after the Treasury secretary, Henry M. Paulson Jr., requested the
emergency bailout legislation with a warning that the American economy was at
risk of the worst economic collapse since the Depression.
“We have shown the world that the United States will stabilize our financial
markets and maintain a leading role in the global economy,” Mr. Bush said.
But it was a hollow victory for the administration, which after long favoring a
hands-off approach toward the financial industry has found itself interceding
repeatedly this year to avert one calamity after another.
Ms. Pelosi and other Democrats, who expect to widen their majority in Congress
in the November elections, said they intended to tighten controls.
“High-fliers on Wall Street will no longer be able to jeopardize that personal
economic security of Americans,” Ms. Pelosi said, “because of the bright light
of scrutiny, accountability and the attention given under regulatory reform.”
Representative Barney Frank, Democrat of Massachusetts and chairman of the
Financial Services Committee, said: “We will be back next year to do some
serious surgery on the financial structure.”
The Republican leader, Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, had urged his
colleagues to vote yes. “We know if we do nothing this crisis is likely to
worsen and put us in an economic slump the likes of which we have never seen,”
he said. “I am going to vote for this bill because I think it’s in the best
interests of the American people.”
Opponents of the bailout called it a costly Band-Aid that did not address the
core problems in the financial system. “Some things have changed in this bill
but taxpayers will still be picking up the tab for Wall Street’s party,” said
Representative Marilyn Musgrave, Republican of Colorado. “I am voting against
this today because it’s not the best bill. It’s the quickest bill. Taxpayers for
generations will pay for our haste and there is no guarantee that they will ever
see the benefits.”
Among House Democrats as well as Republicans, many lawmakers facing the toughest
challenges for re-election remained in the no column. Those with easier races
were more likely to switch.
Many said they agonized over the decision amid a torrent of calls from
constituents. Several who switched to yes cited a provision added by the Senate
increasing the amount of savings insured by the Federal government to $250,000
per account, from $100,000.
Fears about the economy also motivated support. “Nobody in East Tennessee hates
the fact more than me that I am going to vote yes today after voting no on
Monday,” Representative Zach Wamp, a Republican, said.
“Monday I cast a blue-collar vote for the American people,” he continued. “Today
I am going to cast a red, white and blue-collar vote with my hand over my heart
for this country, because things are really bad and we don’t have any choice.”
Several Democrats in the Congressional Black Caucus said they were persuaded to
support the bill by Mr. Obama.
Representatives Elijah E. Cummings and Donna F. Edwards, both of Maryland, said
they had each spoken to Mr. Obama who helped persuade them to support the bill,
in part by assuring them that he would work to achieve a goal that Democrats
gave up during negotiations: a change in bankruptcy laws to let judges modify
Mr. Obama, speaking in Abington, Pa., said he had urged lawmakers from both
parties to “not make the same mistake twice.” But he warned that passage of the
measure should be just “the beginning of a long-term rescue plan for our middle
Mr. McCain, speaking in Flagstaff, Ariz., warned that the bill was not perfect
and there was more to be done. “It is an outrage that it’s even necessary,” Mr.
McCain said. “But we must stop the damage to our economy done by corrupt and
incompetent practices on Wall Street and in Washington.” Mr. McCain said he
spoke to House Republicans before Friday’s vote and urged them to approve the
Friday’s vote capped an extraordinary two-week final stretch for the 110th
Congress. Lawmakers, eager to get home for the fall campaign season, had
intended to wrap up by adopting a budget bill to finance government operations
through early March.
Instead, after dealing with the budget, they found themselves still in
Washington, just five weeks before Election Day, facing the most important vote
of the year — the most important vote of their lives, many lawmakers said — and
under extreme pressure by the White House, the presidential nominees, and
Congressional leaders of both parties to make a quick decision.
Supporters said the bailout was needed to prevent economic collapse; opponents
said it was hasty, ill conceived and risked too much taxpayer money to help Wall
Street tycoons, while providing no guarantees of success. The rescue plan allows
the Treasury to buy troubled securities from financial firms in an effort to
ease a deepening credit crisis that is choking off business and consumer loans,
the lifeblood of the economy, and contributing to a string of bank failures.
Officials say the final cost of the bailout will be far less than $700 billion
because the government will resell the assets that it buys.
The final agreement disburses the money in parts, with Congress able to block
the second $350 billion. It also provides for tighter oversight of the program
by two boards, and requires the government to do more to prevent home
foreclosures. Lawmakers also included efforts to restrict so-called golden
parachute retirement plans for some executives whose firms seek help, and a
provision allowing the government to recoup any losses after five years by
assessing the financial industry.
Reporting was contributed by Robert Pear
and Carl Hulse in Washington;
Lee Myers in Abington, Pa.;
and Michael Cooper in Flagstaff, Ariz.
Bailout Plan Wins Approval; Democrats Vow Tighter Rules,
$700 Billion Is Sought for Wall Street
in Vast Bailout
September 21, 2008
The New York Times
By DAVID M. HERSZENHORN
WASHINGTON — The Bush administration on Saturday formally proposed a vast
bailout of financial institutions in the United States, requesting unfettered
authority for the Treasury Department to buy up to $700 billion in distressed
mortgage-related assets from the private firms.
The proposal, not quite three pages long, was stunning for its stark simplicity.
It would raise the national debt ceiling to $11.3 trillion. And it would place
no restrictions on the administration other than requiring semiannual reports to
Congress, granting the Treasury secretary unprecedented power to buy and resell
“This is a big package, because it was a big problem,” President Bush said
Saturday at a White House news conference, after meeting with President Álvaro
Uribe of Colombia. “I will tell our citizens and continue to remind them that
the risk of doing nothing far outweighs the risk of the package, and that, over
time, we’re going to get a lot of the money back.”
After a week of stomach-flipping turmoil in the financial system, and with
officials still on edge about how global markets will respond, the delivery of
the administration’s plan set the stage for a four-day brawl in Congress.
Democratic leaders have pledged to approve a bill but say it must also include
tangible help for ordinary Americans in the form of an economic stimulus
Staff members from Treasury and the House Financial Services and Senate banking
committees immediately began meeting on Capitol Hill and were expected to work
through the weekend. Congressional leaders are hoping to recess at the end of
the week for the fall elections, after approving the bailout and a budget
measure to keep the government running.
With Congressional Republicans warning that the bailout could be slowed by
efforts to tack on additional provisions, Democratic leaders said they would
insist on a requirement that the administration use its new role, as the owner
of large amounts of mortgage debt, to help hundreds of thousands of troubled
borrowers at risk of losing their homes to foreclosure.
“It’s clear that the administration has requested that Congress authorize, in
very short order, sweeping and unprecedented powers for the Treasury secretary,”
the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi of California, said in a statement. “Democrats
will work with the administration to ensure that our response to events in the
financial markets is swift, but we must insulate Main Street from Wall Street
and keep people in their homes.”
Ms. Pelosi said Democrats would also insist on “enacting an economic recovery
package that creates jobs and returns growth to our economy.”
Even as talks got under way, there were signs of how very much in flux the plan
remained. The administration suggested that it might adjust its proposal,
initially restricted to purchasing assets from financial institutions based in
the United States, to enable foreign firms with United States affiliates to make
use of it as well.
The ambitious effort to transfer the bad debts of Wall Street, at least
temporarily, into the obligations of American taxpayers was first put forward by
the administration late last week after a series of bold interventions on behalf
of ailing private firms seemed unlikely to prevent a crash of world financial
A $700 billion expenditure on distressed mortgage-related assets would roughly
be what the country has spent so far in direct costs on the Iraq war and more
than the Pentagon’s total yearly budget appropriation. Divided across the
population, it would amount to more than $2,000 for every man, woman and child
in the United States.
Whatever is spent will add to a budget deficit already projected at more than
$500 billion next year. And it comes on top of the $85 billion government rescue
of the insurance giant American International Group and a plan to spend up to
$200 billion to shore up the mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
At his news conference, Mr. Bush also sought to portray the plan as helping
every American. “The government,” he said, “needed to send a clear signal that
we understood the instability could ripple throughout and affect the working
people and the average family, and we weren’t going to let that happen.”
A program to help troubled borrowers refinance mortgages — along with an $800
billion increase in the national debt limit — was approved in July. But
financing for it depended largely on fees paid by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac,
which have been placed into a government conservatorship.
Representative Barney Frank, Democrat of Massachusetts and chairman of the House
Financial Services Committee, said in an interview that his staff had already
begun working with the Senate banking committee to draft additions to the
Mr. Frank said Democrats were particularly intent on limiting the huge pay
packages for corporate executives whose firms seek aid under the new plan,
raising the prospect of a contentious battle with the White House.
“There are going to be federal tax dollars buying up some of the bad paper,” Mr.
Frank said. “They should accept some compensation guidelines, particularly to
get rid of the perverse incentives where it’s ‘heads I win, tails I break even.’
Mr. Frank said Democrats were also thinking about tightening the language on the
debt limit to make clear that the additional borrowing authority could be used
only for the bailout plan. And he said they might seek to revive a proposal that
would give bankruptcy judges the authority to modify the terms of primary
mortgages, a proposal strongly opposed by the financial industry.
Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, who attended emergency
meetings with the Treasury secretary, Henry M. Paulson Jr., and the Federal
Reserve chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, on Capitol Hill last week, described the
proposal as a good start but said it did little for regular Americans.
“This is a good foundation of a plan that can stabilize markets quickly,” Mr.
Schumer said in a statement. “But it includes no visible protection for
taxpayers or homeowners. We look forward to talking to Treasury to see what, if
anything, they have in mind in these two areas.”
Ms. Pelosi’s statement made clear that she would push for an economic stimulus
initiative either as part of the bailout legislation or, more likely, as part of
the budget resolution Congress must adopt before adjourning for the fall
elections. Such a plan could include an increase in unemployment benefits and
spending on infrastructure projects to help create jobs.
Some Congressional Republicans warned Democrats not to overreach.
“The administration has put forward a plan to help the American people, and it
is now incumbent on Congress to work together to solve this crisis,” said
Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, the Republican leader.
Mr. Boehner added, “Efforts to exploit this crisis for political leverage or
partisan quid pro quo will only delay the economic stability that families,
seniors and small businesses deserve.”
Aides to Senator Barack Obama of Illinois, the Democratic presidential nominee,
said he was reviewing the proposal. In Florida, Mr. Obama told voters he would
press for a broader economic stimulus.
“We have to make sure that whatever plan our government comes up with works not
just for Wall Street, but for Main Street,” Mr. Obama said. “We have to make
sure it helps folks cope with rising prices, and sparks job creation, and helps
homeowners stay in their homes.”
Senator John McCain of Arizona, the Republican nominee, issued a statement
saying he, too, was reviewing the plan.
“This financial crisis,” Mr. McCain said, “requires leadership and action in
order to restore a sound foundation to financial markets, get our economy on its
feet, and eliminate this burden on hardworking middle-class Americans.”
If adopted, the bailout plan would sharply raise the stakes for the new
administration on the appointment of a new Treasury secretary.
The administration’s plan would allow the Treasury to hire staff members and
engage outside firms to help manage its purchases. And officials said that the
administration envisioned enlisting several outside firms to help run the effort
to buy up mortgage-related assets.
Officials said that details were still being worked out but that one idea was
for the Treasury to hold reverse auctions, in which the government would offer
to buy certain classes of distressed assets at a particular price and firms
would then decide if they were willing to sell at that price, or could bid the
Mindful of a potential political fight, Mr. Paulson and Mr. Bernanke held a
series of conference calls with members of Congress on Friday to begin
convincing them that action was needed not just to help Wall Street but everyday
Americans as well.
Republicans typically supportive of the administration said they were in favor
of approving the plan as swiftly as possible.
Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, said in a statement,
“This proposal is, and should be kept, simple and clear.” The majority leader,
Senator Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, said that the bailout was needed but
that Mr. Bush owed the public a fuller explanation.
Some lawmakers were more critical or even adamantly opposed to the plan. “The
free market for all intents and purposes is dead in America,” Senator Jim
Bunning, Republican of Kentucky, declared on Friday.
It is far from clear how much distressed debt the government will end up
purchasing, though it seemed likely that the $700 billion figure was large
enough to send a reassuring message to the jittery markets. There are estimates
that firms are carrying $1 trillion or more in bad mortgage-related assets.
The ultimate price tag of the bailout is virtually impossible to know, in part
because of the possibility that taxpayers could profit from the effort,
especially if the market stabilizes and real estate prices rise.
Lehman Can Sell to Barclays
A federal bankruptcy judge decided early Saturday that Lehman Brothers could
sell its investment banking and trading businesses to Barclays, the big British
bank, the first major step to wind down the nation’s fourth-largest investment
The judge, James Peck, gave his decision at the end of an eight-hour hearing,
which capped a week of financial turmoil.
The deal was said to be worth $1.75 billion earlier in the week but the value
was in flux after lawyers announced changes to the terms on Friday. It may now
be worth closer to $1.35 billion, which includes the $960 million price tag on
Lehman’s office tower in Midtown Manhattan.
Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. on Monday filed the biggest bankruptcy in United
States history, after Barclays PLC declined to buy the investment bank in its
Reporting was contributed
by Jeff Zeleny from Daytona Beach, Fla.,
Cooper, Carl Hulse,
Stephen Labaton and David Stout from Washington.
$700 Billion Is Sought
for Wall Street in Vast Bailout,
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