Posts filed under “Bailouts”
A Modest Proposal: The housing crisis worsened over the summer of 2008, prompting Congress to debate various bailout proposals. But the housing market worsened, raising the default rate on mortgages. The entire inverted pyramid of derivatives built on top of the mortgage market further worsened, adding yet more pressure to the credit crisis. The bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers and the nationalization of AIG were the results.
The response to this financial crisis from the Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson borders on Insanity: An outrageous trillion dollar plus bailout, with the potential for unlimited expenditures at the behest of the Treasury Secretary. It is a terribly expensive plan, one that prevents judicial or administrative or budgetary review. It is fraught with moral hazard, rewarding bad judgment and excessive risk taking. It punishes the prudent and rewards the profligate.It focuses on all the wrong issues.
Worst of all, it is unlikely to work.
Most of the current solutions under discussion amount to throwing obscene amounts of money at the problem, rather than recognizing what the key issues are.
These approaches have several fundamental problems. The goals are less than desirable: 1) they attempt to keep people in homes they cannot afford; 2) The Paulson plan takes bad loans off of the books of poor lenders, and dumps them onto taxpayers; 3) They maintain price supports for homes that remain significantly over-priced.
At the heart of the
$700 billion dollar unlimited finance Paulson bailout is the desire to move weak performing or poorly made loans off of the books of the lenders who made them and onto the taxpayers back (likely via the FHA). To understand the folly of the this housing bailout, one must grasp the magnitude of the prior housing boom, as well as the historical norms that exists in the American housing market.
The current proposal moves bad mortgages from the irresponsible lenders to the innocent. It punishes every taxpayer who was prudent, and every homeowner that behaved in a responsible manner. It eliminates the sanctity of contracts, and allows judges to “cram down” mortgages.
These may be desperate times, but they do not call for ill thought out, desperate measures. Rather than merely criticize the
$700 billion dollar unlimited finance Paulson plan, I would instead like to propose an alternative approach, one that costs much, much less, and is more likely to be effective: The 30/20/10 Proposal.
A MODEST PROPOSAL: A MORE REASONABLE WORKOUT FOR LENDERS AND BORROWERS THAN THE TAXPAYER FUNDED BAILOUT . . .
Bill Moyers sits down with former Nixon White House strategist and political and economic critic Kevin Phillips, whose latest book BAD MONEY: RECKLESS FINANCE, FAILED POLITICS, AND THE GLOBAL CRISIS OF AMERICAN CAPITALISM explores the role that the crumbling financial sector played in the now-fragile American economy.
September 19, 2008
WSJ: NYT: > Sources: Markets Soar, but New Rules Upset Traders VIKAS BAJAJ, ANDREW ROSS SORKIN and MICHAEL J. de la MERCED NYT, September 18, 2008 http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/20/business/worldbusiness/20markets.html U.S. Bailout Plan Calms Markets, But Struggle Looms Over Details DEBORAH SOLOMON and DAMIAN PALETTA WSJ, SEPTEMBER 20, 2008 http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122186549098258645.html
Paul Krugman, an economics professor at Princeton University, talks about the U.S. government’s move to cleanse banks of troubled assets and halt an exodus of investors from money markets and the outlook for the U.S. financial-services industry and economy
00:00 "Socialization" of U.S. financial system
01:51 Bailout’s justification; "inevitable" rescue
04:13 The outlook for U.S. banks is "not clear."
05:02 "Weakening" economy into next year
Running time 05:57
Krugman Sees `Socialization’ of U.S. Financial System: Video
Bloomberg, September 19, 2008 17:53 EDT
Last night, we discussed the absurdity of banning all short sales. The details of the SEC action have been released (see below). The specifics are a "temporary halt in short selling in 799 financial institutions" until October 2nd.
I have been trying to contextualize this, and I keep coming back to what seemed like a wild theory yesterday that seems a whole lot less wild today. During the day, I had an interesting phone conversation with Joe Besecker of Emerald Asset Management. (We used to do schtick together on Power Lunch, and made for an amusing financial comedy team).
But Joe is a good money manager, a great stock picker, and a thoughtful guy. He raised an intriguing issue: None of the many hedgies he knew were pressing their bets recently. The bear raids on the banks and brokers were NOT a case of piling on by US based hedge funds. And from what he was seeing and hearing about in terms of order flow, the vast majority of the financial short selling the past week or so were being done overseas. It appears that the lion’s share of shorting was coming out of overseas bourses such as London and Dubai.It may not be a coincidence that the financial short selling ban is both here and in London.
Then there is another coincidence: The huge increase in shorting of the financials occurred on the anniversary of 9/11. And on top of that, the same institutions attacked on 9/11/01 were the ones suffering in recent days.
Joe asked the question: Is anyone investigating whether this is a case of financial terrorism? He wanted to know if someone was at least looking into this question (Joe is buds with Jim Cramer, and mentioned it to him, who then omitted to cite in his column that this was Joe’s theory, not his own).
Anyway, its an interesting theory, one that seemed kinda out there — until last night’s emergency action. Nothing else really explains the insanity of banning short sales — except for Joe Besecker’s questions. I can think of only 3 other possibilities that explain this insane action:
1) Extreme idiocy and incompetence — not unthinkable ftom the gang that couldn’t shoot straight in DC these days;
2) Following the impetuous Fannie/Freddie rescue, the timing of this certainly has political overtones. We will see if it gets extended a month from October 2nd to November 5th.
3) Some other factor, possibly financial terrorism.
I can think of no other explanations for the dismantling of the free operations of trading markets.
The grand irony of all this is that Naked Shorting has been very profitable for the big broker dealers, like Morgan And Goldman and Merrill and Lehman. They have looked the other way for years, and the SEC has been AWOL on this issue.
Short sales require a locate (shares to borrow) and then a subsequent delivery. It should take less than 3 days to deliver the borrowed shares, but instead, delivery is often delayed indefinitely. Failure to deliver leads to a margin charge, which can be as high as 9-15%.
If you want to know who to blame for the past 5 years of naked shorting, you only have two places to look: The Financial brokers themselves, and the nonfeasance of a feckless SEC.
SEC: Ban All Short Selling (September 18, 2008)
SEC Halts Short Selling of Financial Stocks to Protect Investors and Markets
SEC Chairman Christopher Cox
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 2008-211