Cooking the numbers
"I think the focus on the $700B bailout is wrong. It's been portrayed as a bailout of Wall Street, which is a highly unpalatable idea for middle America--and rightly so. But thinking about it as an attempt to keep the credit market liquid is more palatable--and, in my view, a bit more accurate." - Brian Clapper
Over the last two days my thinking has evolved towards this understanding, that the original idea conflated two different concepts - one - that credit was drying up due to incomprehensible derivative debts
- and two - that the federal government buying that incomprehensible debt
at some yet-to-be-determined-price and making it less incomprehensible over time was a way to fix the problem. The key figure to watch is the interbank lending rate
(libor), not the DOW.
That doesn't make the House bailout bill palatable, however. A pig in the poke - even with lipstick - is still a pig in the poke. If the market can't figure out how much that debt is really worth, how can the federal government? Ever?Update
: I'm now at page 92 of the revised, 461 page act
, and it is considerably better than the one in the House. I'm told my blood pressure will rise from here on out, however... Update 2 - 7PM
: Now at page 142, and need some medication... bad....Update 3 - 1AM
: Finished reading it all, and some of the associated acts, checking some dates of implementation now, some comments after I get some sleep. It passed the Senate long before I finished, there must be some speed readers on the Hill.....Update 4 - 10AM
: I have written a whole series on the events of the past week, trying to make sense of it, it is tagged banking
back to this morning's rant:
And more centralization - of HOUSING? - in the hands of the federal government does not sound very good to me. Seeing the housing side of the problem devolve to the states strikes me as saner, and
constitutional. Suspending the Mark to Market accounting rule
, as many have suggested, is nothing more than cooking the books until after the election. Real numbers are required to make real decisions
As for fixing the credit crunch, raising rates would be a sane answer. Normal interest rates are too low. I am scared to calculate what financing the federal debt would be like if interest rates reflected the reality of risk in this market, but that is the market mechanism. Raising rates goes against the conventional wisdom of the proper thing to do in a recession, but with 44% of the federal paper held outside the US, there needs to be some mechanism to spur investment in the face of objectively evaluated risk
: By saying the above I was not saying that rates needed to go up, but that rates going up would reflect the perceived risk in the economy. The classically "right" answer is to inflate the currency in times like these. I was pointing out that the size of the overseas holdings is something fairly new in Keynesian finance, and wondering what incentives those investors had to stay in an inflated currency. OK, back to the original post....
Anyone notice that the original - Paulson - proposal - was better than the House's in that it only reimbursed corporations BASED IN THE USA? Somebody had to lose in this shell game
and Paulson picked the overseas investors and companies like Halliburton, in Dubai, to take the hit harder than the taxpayers. Congress "fixed" that after some pithy commentary from China
- (of all the links I posted thus far today that was the most interesting) - and on the trade deficit
The game is rigged to favor inflationary policies over taxation. I have a modest counter proposal - why not pay off all 962 billion
of the usurious credit card debt under condition that the people holding that debt cut up their credit cards? Eliminating the interest payments on that alone would save at least 100b a year in interest payments, which many would use to make house payments, and the corresponding inflation would prop up asset prices. I realize that this makes about as much sense as the free silver movement
, but I judge the benefits to the American people and hit on the banks to be more effective way of sharing the pain and moral hazard than what is currently on the table.
Note: I called this "A modest proposal". Some more out of the box thinking is needed.
Maybe we already are in a stagflation period like 1973.
I still can't help but think, in the wee hours of the morning, this whole hoo-rah is a weapon of mass distraction unleashed by parties unknown for purposes as yet unknown. I keep searching out the corners of the internet for some sign there is something else going on - noting details like the 600+B budget resolution that passed without a whimper, the wimpy web broadcaster bill that also passed, and noting that the NORCOM 1st brigade
has gone active in the US.
I can't help but think upon how Rome tried to control its legions, by banishing them to the outer provinces, and what Julius Caesar did
"Right now, greasing the credit market seems to be the best bet, however that's accomplished. Lowering the central bank lending rates hasn't helped; the banks take the extra cash and hoard it, to shore up their balance sheets. It's time for something else, even an imperfect something else." - Brian Clapper, again being saner than I.
I no longer have any real skin in this game. I took my last lumps last year, threw up my hands and left the country. All I have left is my freshly sharpened pitchfork. It must suck to be a sane, responsible citizen that still has a mortgage and kids. The day that people like Brian are fed up enough to sharpen their pitchforks and take to the streets has not come yet, but it will.
The national debt clock cracked 10 trillion dollars today, even before the vote. It is now at:
One of the things that really, really bothered me about seeing Sweeney Todd
turned into a movie last year is that it became a story about two unlovable murderers rather than the scathing social satire of love, betrayal, and revenge on corruption that it was in the original stage version. By showing the corrupt classes Hollywood utterly ruined the song "A little Priest", and eventually, the movie. I highly recommend the stage version.
From "A Little Priest":
Mrs. Lovett, how I've lived
Without you all these years, I'll never know!
Think about it!
Lots of other gentlemen'll
Soon be comin' for a shave,
For what's the sound of the world out there?
What, Mr. Todd?
What, Mr. Todd?
What is that sound?
Those crunching noises pervading the air!
Yes, Mr. Todd!
Yes, Mr. Todd!
Yes, all around!
It's man devouring man, my dear!
And [LOVETT: Then] who are we to deny it in here?
Labels: bailout, banking, sarcasm