Tag: socialism

We’re talking hundreds of billions

“We’re” is an understatement, and hundreds of billions might be too…

“We’re talking hundreds of billions,” Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said in a press conference. “This needs to be big enough to make a real difference and get to the heart of the problem.”

Paulson and Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke’s plans, which include the removal of illiquid mortgage securities from companies’ balance sheets, sent stocks from the U.K. to China soaring. The dollar gained, while two-year Treasury notes fell the most in 23 years, sending the yield up from the lowest level since mid-March.

“We’re” doesn’t mean the Treasury Secretary and the Chairman of the Fed personally (although some will inevitably debate whether it includes the mice in their pockets). And as Forbes notes, the price tag will almost assuredly wind up being much more than originally estimated.

US Financial Sector Bailing Without Big Pail (UPDATED)

No government assistance this weekend

As Lehman Brothers, one of oldest names on Wall Street, appeared to unravel on Sunday, anxiety over the bank’s fate — and over what might happen next — gripped the nation’s financial industry. By late afternoon, Merrill Lynch, under mounting pressure, entered into talks to sell itself to Bank of America.

While the New York Times waxed on about spoiled cocktail parties and canceled weekends in the Hamptons, Bloomberg noted that Lehman’s lawyers were prepping Chapter 7 paperwork and the Wall Street Journal said the Merrill Lynch board was nearing a vote on a $29/share sale to Bank of America.

After reviewing chatter around the web, I’ll say the consensus expectation is that Washington Mutual is a foregone conclusion, and that Wachovia and AIG are not far behind.

I guess the powers that be in the United Socialist State Republic of America figured they’ve already bitten off a century’s worth of meals with Fannie and Freddie.

UPDATE: The Fed has been clocking some overtime – according to their now regular Sunday press release, they are “broadening” the Primary Dealer Credit Facility and the Term Securities Lending Facility (i.e. the emergency conduits for the printing of money in return for collateral of declining value). In particular…

The collateral eligible to be pledged at the Primary Dealer Credit Facility (PDCF) has been broadened to closely match the types of collateral that can be pledged in the tri-party repo systems of the two major clearing banks. Previously, PDCF collateral had been limited to investment-grade debt securities.

Unless I am completely off base, this means that the PDCF will now accept equity securities in return for short-term loans. The tri-party repo system is run primarily by Bank of New York and JP Morgan Chase – this is the kind of move that would reflect either 1) declining confidence in their ability to continue clearing the transactions or 2) something done with their prodding in order to reduce their own counterparty risk.

Big stuff.

UPDATE 2: Lehman files Chapter 11.

Financial services and the socialization of losses

First Martin Wolf said it:

The world has witnessed well over 100 significant banking crises over the past three decades. The authorities have even had to rescue important parts of the US financial system – on most counts, the world’s most sophisticated – four times during the same period: from the developing country debt and “savings and loan” crises of the 1980s to the commercial property crisis of the early 1990s and now the subprime and securitised-credit crisis of 2007-08.

No industry has a comparable talent for privatising gains and socialising losses. Participants in no other industry get as self-righteously angry when public officials – particularly, central bankers – fail to come at once to their rescue when they get into (well-deserved) trouble.

(h/t to Paul Kedrosky)

On the same day, Barry Ritholtz said it:

The natural process of washing out excesses will lead to gnashing of teeth and begging for the Fed to intervene….those people who only believe in free market so long as they are going higher aren’t capitalists, they are socialists.

I’ve mentioned this myself too.