Falling consumer spending and rising defaults have prompted American Express—which has seen its stock plunge 57% this year—to ask for $3.5 billion from the government’s $700 billion bailout fund, reports the Wall Street Journal. The company Monday received Federal Reserve approval to become a bank holding company, giving it access to the Troubled Asset Relief Program.
AmEx hasn’t publicly acknowledged its request. As the Friday deadline for TARP applications nears, more companies not hit directly by mortgage defaults and the housing crisis have dipped into the program. Credit-card issuer Capital One has received preliminary approval for $3.55 billion from TARP, and another 52 companies have commitments for $172 billion from the feds.