Will $1.4 trillion Fed spending make the U.S. and the dollar look like a sinking ship?
*Barron's, by Alan Abelson, September 22, 2008
Going for Broke
“Uncle Sam plans to spend like there’s no tomorrow to cure what ails the credit markets and rev up investors. Will it work?
BABY, IT’S COLD OUT THERE. So let’s toss another billion on the fire.
What’s that make it? Well, let’s see: $29 billion for Bear Stearns, somewhere between $1 billion and $100 billion each for Fannie and Freddie (a nice narrow range), $85 billion for AIG, a couple of hundred billion to keep stray banks, brokers and their errant kin from asphyxiating themselves by swallowing toxic paper. And then there’s the proposed reincarnation of the Resolution Trust Corp., which all by itself may mean shelling out $800 billion, perhaps even as much as $1 trillion.
While we’re at it, we might as well include the $400 billion with which the Paulson-Bernanke grand plan envisages endowing the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. so it can insure money-market funds.
But, please, understand those mind-boggling sums in no way, shape or form are to be construed as designed to aid and abet a bailout. Instead, they are merely the essential ingredients of an ‘intervention,’ or, if you prefer, a ‘rescue’ — just about anything, in other words, that’s semantically sweeter than bailout, with its ugly connotation of a sinking ship.
Besides, we have it on the best authority that none of this largess will cost the taxpayer a cent over the long run, which, if nothing else, speaks volumes about what constitutes the best authority these days. The reasoning is simple (or perhaps simple-minded is more accurate), namely that deep-pockets Uncle Sam can sell off the assets of the foundering companies on which he has bestowed that bounty and come out whole.
Surely, they jest. For a heap of those so-called assets might easily be confused with liabilities since even those that can be sold will likely fetch a feeble fraction of what their possessors now claim they’re worth.”
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