Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Otherwise known as looting the treasury

Just doing my normal evening reading, and I came across this fine post from Yves at Naked Capitalism. It goes into a lot of detail that might bore some of you guys, but there are two important points to take from the post.

One, as I feared, the TARP and similar government programs are becoming vehicles for connected parties to get bailed out by taxpayers on an epic scale.

Two, the MSM, caught up in the drama of home foreclosures and the stock market implosion and assuming as always that government intervention is the answer to any problem, is completely missing the story here.

The bailout is not going to fix anything fundamental. It is simply going to allow the government to select a handful of winners at the expense of countless losers, including any company considered expendable and, as always, taxpayers.

3 comments:

Aztec Tomb said...

I don't understand the tone of outrage here. People being bailed out by the bailout plan? What have we come to?

The whole point of the AIG bailout was to contain a potential death spiral in the CDO and swap markets. It would allow AIG to get the contracts off of their books and provide purchasers with some amount of cushion here. There's nothing surprising or conspiratorial about it.

What is interesting is how non-finance related industries are lobbying to get access at TARP dollars. Heard the story on NPR. Are they part of the MSM?

Al Powell said...

It would appear that this bailout--in conjunction with other foreign bailouts--is actually having some positive effect on the global credit system. For instance, while it's not back to historical equilibrium, the TED Spread is a lot healthier now than it's been in awhile. CalculatedRisk addressed it earlier this afternoon.

GammaBoy said...

Aztec,

Your final paragraph illustrates the problem. "Lobbying". Fault my concerns for the Constitutionality of government actions, but there was no real precedemt for the federal government to bailout AIG. AIG was not covered as part of any of the Fed's programs. They were a private company that got overlevered. Based on their standing as Fed dealer, Lehman had much more reason to deserve a rescue than did AIG, but Lehman died, while AIG survives. Is any of this based on law? No. It is based on the whims of a few people in power. That for me is a serious problem, and my dismay with the MSM lies in their willingness to completely ignore the matter of the legality of any of this.

As for non-finance companies like GM, the MSM is again missing the story. GM has massive pension liabilities. If GM goes bankrupt, the pensions get dumped on the PBGC, and the PBGC cannot handle them. The government is trying to protect one of its own entities here.


Al,

I love CR's progress reports. Great stuff. I am not nearly as confident that the TARP is fixing anything, but rather disguising things. Look at the latest set of CR posts. Crazy bearishness. Regardless, it's an ends and means thing. Even if the TARP did fix things, it is probably unconstitutional.