September 29, 2008

THERE IS NO CRISIS, IT'S JUST A TRICK TO TURN ME SOCIALIST!:

They Just Don't Get It (Steven Pearlstein, September 30, 2008, Washington Post)

The basic problem here is that too many people don't understand the seriousness of the situation.

Americans fail to understand that they are facing the real prospect of a decade of little or no economic growth because of the bursting of a credit bubble that they helped create and that now threatens to bring down the global financial system.

Politicians worry less about preventing a financial meltdown than about ideology, partisan posturing and teaching people a lesson. Financiers have yet to own up publicly to their own greed, arrogance and incompetence. And leaders of foreign governments still think that this is an American problem and that they have no need to mount similar rescue efforts in their own countries.

In the coming weeks and months, all of these people will come to understand how deep the hole really is and how we're all in it together.

They'll come to understand that the giant sucking sound they hear is of a massive deleveraging of the global economy and the global financial system as households and governments, businesses and investment funds adjust to living in a world with less debt and more inflation.

And they will come around, reluctantly, to the understanding that the only way to get out of these situations is to have governments all around the world borrow gobs of money and effectively nationalize large swaths of the financial system so it can be restructured, recapitalized, reformed and returned to private ownership once the crisis has passed and the economy has gotten back on its feet.


Dysfunction in Washington Exacts a Heavy Price (Gerald F. Seib , 9/29/08, Wall Street Journal)
[E]ven if senators manage to revive the bailout plan, a great deal of damage already has been done:

American voters, who didn't like the plan in the first place, will like even less the discovery that Washington's response to their concerns was to collapse into genuine dysfunction. [...]

The U.S. -- meaning both parties and the public and private sectors -- has to worry about what global investors make of the picture of disarray they now see in the U.S. That's a crucial consideration because the U.S. now depends on foreign capital to finance both a trade deficit of more than $700 billion and a $400 billion federal budget deficit. Today, foreign lenders hold about half of America's public debt, and the nation relies on them to finance more than 70% of its new debt, the nonpartisan Peter G. Peterson Foundation estimates.

The reason foreign investors have been willing to pony up this cash has been their basic, longstanding belief that the U.S. system -- financial and political -- makes America the ultimate safe haven.

At what point does that basic belief start to erode? And what are the consequences of that possibly happening? The question is even more acute because of the likelihood that even more foreign capital will be needed, at least in the short term, to help the American government finance the very bailout now being debated.

The more immediate question, of course, is what happens now.


Posted by Orrin Judd at September 29, 2008 9:02 PM
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