America’s commercial property industry got out the begging bowl yesterday as the credit crisis tightened its grip on the world’s biggest economy.

Amid grave warnings that thousands of office blocks, hotels and shopping centres are braced for bankruptcy, representatives of the industry went cap-in-hand to Washington.

Henry Paulson, the US Treasury Secretary, managed to secure $700bn of taxpayer funds in October to help to bail out Wall Street banks. The White House agreed last week to lend $17.4bn (£11.7bn) to General Motors and Chrysler, the car manufacturers, to prevent them from running out of cash by the end of the year.

The Times