Great OP/ED Piece As To Why Obama Is Setting Himself Up For Major Economic Disaster

Discussion in 'Politics' started by ByLoSellHi, Apr 9, 2009.


    Obama Stakes His Fortunes on Failed Banksters: Jonathan Weil
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    Commentary by Jonathan Weil

    April 9 (Bloomberg) --
    Now that we have a rough idea how President Barack Obama and his lieutenants plan to prop up insolvent financial institutions using taxpayers’ money, we’re left with a more difficult question: Why?

    Why doesn’t the Obama administration force insolvent banks and insurance companies to come clean about their losses first? It’s the “why” that’s so vexing. The who, what, when, and how are mere details, by comparison.

    Smiling now, but for how long?

    More than anyone else’s, it should be in Obama’s political self-interest to accelerate the worst of the financial crisis and get as much of the inevitable pain behind us as quickly as possible. Every day he waits is one less day he will have between the time we hit rock bottom and the next election. And yet, Obama and his minions are doing all they can to delay the reckoning, which only will make it worse.

    When publicly owned companies change management, often the smartest thing a new chief executive officer can do is clear the decks and take a “big bath” charge to earnings. In other words, the company writes off all its worthless assets and reports huge losses, pushing every conceivable drop of red ink into the past. The new CEO gets to blame his predecessor’s dumb mistakes. The company gets a fresh start with the investing public.

    Obama could have taken the same approach with the banks the moment he took office, while he still had standing to blame the financial crisis on George W. Bush’s administration, stupid regulators, and corrupt lawmakers -- that is, everyone but himself.

    Executive Order

    He could have ordered all U.S. financial institutions to immediately confess whatever losses they hadn’t yet recognized. And he could have backed that up by vowing to prosecute every officer, director and auditor the Justice Department could find who had approved numbers they knew to be wrong.

    Obama didn’t do that. And now, six months into the government’s Troubled Asset Relief Program, his administration’s approach to the financial crisis is largely indistinguishable from its predecessor’s. The only objective, it seems, is to buy time, in hopes that an economic recovery somehow will materialize and lift the financial system back to health.

    The Obama administration’s “strategy,” for lack of a better word, is to keep plying broken financial institutions with as much taxpayer money as the government can print. And so the government will keep subsidizing failed mega-banks indefinitely, rather than placing any into receivership or liquidating them.

    Taxpayers at Risk

    The latest iteration of this policy is the Treasury Department’s Public-Private Investment Program. In short, struggling financial institutions will be encouraged to swap their most toxic mortgage-related assets with one another at inflated prices. The purchases will be financed by big government loans, so that taxpayers are at risk for the bulk of any losses.

    If the government wanted transparency, it would force financial institutions to write down their bad assets now, and figure out afterward which companies deserve taxpayer support. Instead, the Treasury plans to recapitalize them first, keep their current financial condition hidden, and let their failed managers stay in their jobs.

    The key assumption underlying this plan is that the declines in the values of these companies’ toxic assets are the result of private investors’ temporary reluctance to buy them, and that prices will rebound if Treasury can revive the markets where these assets trade.

    Proper Values

    The Treasury hasn’t explained why it believes the assets’ proper values are their original book values, rather than the prices unsubsidized investors are willing to pay for them. (This is one of the points made in an April 7 report by the U.S. bailout program’s Congressional Oversight Panel.) If Treasury’s hunch proves wrong, the government will need to rely on something other than a rising economy to restore the banks to solvency.

    So why don’t Obama, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke force the banks to write down their troubled assets first, as a condition of government assistance? We can only speculate, because their explanations so far have made no sense.

    Perhaps they’re scared the markets would panic if large, insolvent financial institutions started telling investors just how undercapitalized they are. There’s the distinct chance some of Obama’s advisers are beholden to failed banksters, because they used to work for them and may want to do so again someday.

    Manpower Shortage

    There also could be a manpower problem. The government might not have enough employees to seize all those sickly banks and supervise the process of winding them down. Probably, it’s some combination of those and other factors.

    Why else would the Treasury tell the 19 biggest U.S. banks to undergo “stress tests” of their financial health, and then put the banks in charge of performing the tests on themselves? Those reasons also might help explain why regulators pressured the board that sets U.S. accounting standards to weaken the rules on mark-to-market accounting, so the banks could hide their losses and show more capital.

    Whatever the case, as long as the government refuses to remove the cancer of zombie banks from our financial system, there’s little hope the U.S. will return to robust economic growth anytime soon. And the longer our wounded banks are allowed to stagger along with no end-game in sight, the greater the risk for Obama that voters will conclude he’s as responsible for blowing the cleanup as others were for causing the crisis.

    He’d better act soon. Time may not be our side any longer.

    (Jonathan Weil is a Bloomberg News columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.)
  2. i agree. obama should have forced out some of the people that led us into this mess. why kick out the gm boss but no bankers?
  3. A noteworthy point.

    But my guess is that they are using the "stress-test" to somehow hold Vikram Pandit and Ken Lewis' feet to the fire. Because the "stress-test" doesn't make any economic sense whatsoever. It only makes sense if it is used politically. Those guys might be next . . .
  4. I heard an argument about that.... seems possibly the existing executives are being maintained so that the cover-up and fraud are kept from being public. If they got rid of the old and got new leaders, first thing they'd do is "clean house"... and we'd find out just how insolvent the institutions are.... Elephino, but could make sense.
  5. Arnie


    The stress test makes perfect sense if the end goal is to nationalize the banks. Some will be "saved" by the government. The others? Cut the cord and let the shareholders take it up the kazoo.
  6. Does anyone here, left, right or center, honestly believe that there IS NOT massive fraud upon the U.S. Taxpayer right now, that banks and financial institutions such as Goldman Sachs are NOT being shown massive preferential treatment, that there is NOT massive nepotism and 'revolving door' syndrome going on in the interaction between Treasury and Wall Street, and that we are NOT going the way of a nation where the new rules will be set by bankers and Wall Street as they literally write the new rules, even to the detriment of other sectors of the U.S. economy and to the long-vaunted 'middle class' America?
  7. Did he inherit this disaster or create one..


    you better HOPE he can pull it out!

    he's all you got mister!
  8. Either incompetence or Obama was bribed. Take your pick.
  9. I literally believe Obama was installed by Goldman Sachs et al.

    I know others would find this belief to be anything other than extraordinary, but many still think this is conspiratorial or ridiculous.

    A good question is whether McCain would have succumbed to the same powers that be.

    We do know who benefited most from Wall Street actors and money in the '08 election, and it wasn't McCain.
  10. Arnie


    Really, what difference does it make? He's the PROTUS and he knew the score going in.
    #10     Apr 11, 2009