Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Bipartisan Enterprise

Seems the only enterprise truly worth of gigantism is that of Wall Street and the power it wields over America.

"Bailing out the US banks need not have meant bailing out the bankers, their shareholders, and bondholders. We could have kept the banks as ongoing institutions, even if we had played by the ordinary rules of capitalism which say that when a firm can't meet its obligations to creditors, the shareholders lose everything.

Unquestionably we should not have allowed banks to become so big and so intertwined that their failure would cause a crisis. But the Obama administration has created a new concept: institutions too big to be resolved, too big for capital markets to provide the necessary discipline. The perverse incentives for excessive risk-taking at taxpayers' expense are even worse with the too-big-to-be-resolved banks than they are at the too-big-to-fail institutions. We have signed a blank cheque on the public purse. We have not circumscribed their gambling - indeed, they have access to funds from the Fed at close to zero interest rates, and it appears that "trading profits" have (besides "accounting" changes) become the major source of returns."

And this...

"Here's how economist Dean Baker recounts what transpired last September 15: (2008)

"Last September, when he (Bernanke) was telling Congress that the economy would collapse if it did not approve the $700 billion TARP bailout, he warned that the commercial paper market was shutting down.

This was hugely important because most major companies rely on selling commercial paper to meet their payrolls and pay other routine bills. If they could not sell commercial paper, then millions of people would soon be laid off and the economy would literally collapse.

What Mr. Bernanke apparently forgot to tell Congress back then is that the Fed has the authority to directly buy commercial paper from financial and non-financial companies. In other words, the Fed has the power to prevent the sort of economic collapse that Bernanke warned would happen if Congress did not quickly approve the TARP. In fact, Bernanke announced that the Fed would create a special lending facility to buy commercial paper the weekend after Congress voted to approve the TARP." ("Bernanke's bad Money", Dean Baker, Counterpunch)

The reason Bernanke did not underwrite the commercial paper market was, if he had, he wouldn't have been able to blackmail congress. He needed the rising anxiety from the crisis to achieve his goals."

And finally...

"President Obama’s speech yesterday was disappointing. As a diagnosis of the problems that let us into financial crisis, it was his clearest and best effort so far. He didn’t say it was a rare accident for which no one is to blame; rather he placed the blame squarely on the structure, incentives, and actions of Wall Street.

But then he said: our regulatory reforms will fix that. This is hard to believe. And even the President seems to have his doubts, because he added a plea that – in the meantime – the financial sector should behave better.

The audience was comprised of our financial elite, but the Wall Street Journal reports “not one CEO from a top U.S. bank was in attendance” (p.A4). How’s that for demonstrating respect, gratitude, and a willingness to behave better?

Louis Brandeis, of course, would have seen things differently. The author of “Other People’s Money: And How The Bankers Use It,” was under no illusions concerning the underlying financial power structures and how they operated. He would have regarded an appeal to the better nature of bankers as somewhere between humorous and sad."

Lying to Congress used to be a big deal unless you're Treasury and the Fed, Right?

And the beat goes on and on and on...ZZZZZZZZZZZ
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