Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson says he has no plans to ask for the second half of the $700 billion Wall Street bailout before he leaves office next month.
"We have a lot of firepower now," Paulson told CNBC. "We've got what we need right now."
Paulson did not rule out a change of direction should an emergency arise, although he said he does not expect another major bank to fail.
"We've shown we know how to respond to situations quickly when they come up," he said.
Paulson will step down to make room for his successor, New York Fed Governor Tim Geithner, who is President-elect Barack Obama’s pick to run the suddenly important agency.
Treasury has received and nearly spent half the money, and the agency must ask Congress and the Bush White House for permission to access the remaining $350 billion. Fifteen billion of the first installment remains.
So far, the banks have been caught between competing pressures — from various parts of the government — to hold money back in order to recapitalize, and to give money out by lending more, faster. Most banks are in no position to accomplish both.
"The question is, are they lending enough; the answer from everyone is no," Paulson said, promising "we will do more to get the banks to lend more."
The Federal Reserve on Tuesday slashed its target for overnight interest rates to a record low zero to 0.25 percent, adding that it would employ "all available tools" to ward off a lengthy recession.
The Fed members voted unanimously on the measure.
In its statement with the rate cut, the Fed’s rate-setting members said that the recession is turning out to be worse than expected.
“The committee anticipates that weak economic conditions are likely to warrant exceptionally low levels of the federal funds rate for some time,” the statement said.
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