Friday, 26 September 2008

One thing at a time

Digestion of the presidential debate later. I’m still extracting nutrients from the latest flood of opinions on the Wall Street bailout. Now that we’ve had a couple more days to mull over this thing, I think we’re being railroaded.

Anything that should save the financial markets’ collective heinie could certainly wait another week to get right. If that is not the case and the whole ship could sink in a matter of hours, that sounds like an argument against doing the bailout at all for the simple reason that the ship may well sink anyway AFTER we’ve tossed $700 billion down the hidey-hole.

It was scandalous for Paulson and Bush even to attempt to put their first proposal over on us, which was to just haul winevats full of cash to the floundering banks in exchange for crap, thereby rewarding their bankers friends’ historic mismanagement and greed with one fortune each. What planet do these guys live on?

But the new, improved version isn’t much more palatable. Sure, there’s a provision to give the government equity stakes, but there’s zero precision about what prices we’re going to pay for these toxic assets, or who will make that decision. Even worse, there’s no guarantee that the financial arteries will then become unclogged.

Meanwhile, more radical suggestions are circulating, and in another week or ten days these might start to get some traction if the hasty deal isn’t already packaged up. Once the Great Bipartisan Act has been completed, the state coffers may well have nothing left to work with even if the dissident ideas suddenly look brilliant. And as several have already said, There won’t be an Act Two to this tragicomedy.

In conclusion, slow down this sucker. Haste makes mega-waste.

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