Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The Bailout So Far -

As Big Three auto manufacturers asks for $34 Billion (up $9 billion in a week) from the government, the government's TARP program comes under attack from the GAO for its loose controls, and AIG plans on asking for a still better deal, the WSJ gives us a look at the Bailout so far.

Important background for those who do not know who Doug Flutie is or do not remember the play for which he is most famous watch this video.

Holman W. Jenkins Jr.: The Bailout So Far -
"We have gone from arm's length, free market, just-in-time availability" of funding to a system where big credit-reliant businesses now have only one place to turn, government.

With pundits threatening the economy with deflation and another Great Depression, none have really been able to argue effectively against this expansion of government responsibility and interventionist zeal....

Maybe Washington will succeed in forestalling a deep and prolonged recession. Maybe all the money ($8 trillion by one count) being printed to acquire or insure mortgages, student loans, credit card receivables, commercial paper and banking shares will be seamlessly withdrawn once those assets are sold back to willing parties in the private sector when the panic has passed. Maybe taxpayers will even make a profit on the deal.

As Doug Flutie can testify, sometimes a 65-yard pass into the end zone lands in the hands of your own receiver....

The U.S. was not Japan when we started but may be Japan when we're done. Remember, the Japanese had a much more closed financial system when entering their post-bubble "lost decade" of the 1990s. We have venture capital, private equity, hedge funds, and an entrepreneurial tradition....

All that may come to an end as cheap government credit drives financial entrepreneurs to the sidelines. We may be able to roll over the resulting mounting federal debt at cheap rates for a while if international markets are willing (there is still confidence in government at least). But unless Gerard Phelan catches the ball in the end zone and GDP bounces back strongly, the bailout's end result may be towering tax rates, drastic spending cuts or serious inflation -- or all three."

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