Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Display:
Many economists skeptical of bailout

Avi Zenilman Sun Sep 21, 8:58 AM ET IN Yahoo's POLITICO

Many of the same economists and opinion-makers who'd provided a bipartisan sheen of consensus to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson's  previous moves have quickly begun casting doubts on the wisdom of a policy that would allow Treasury to purchase without oversight hundreds of billions of dollars of difficult-to-price assets from financial institutions. "We need to take a bold move. In that sense I think Paulson is right," Luigi Zingales, a Professor at the University of Chicago School of Business who wrote a widely circulated short essay titled "Why Paulson is Wrong," told Politico.

Zingales fears  that the Treasury bailout would effectively turn the entire financial sector into a Government Sponsored Enterprise, complete with the same murkiness and moral hazard that sunk Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. "It might achieve the final outcome, but it will do so at an enormous cost," he said. "All the troubles we've seen with Fannie and Freddie would be seen again and again across the entire financial sector."

President Bush is "asking for a huge amount of power," said Nouriel Roubini, an economist at New York University who was among the first to predict the crisis. "He's saying, `Trust me, I'm going to do it right if you give me absolute control.' This is not a monarchy." (Roubini told the New York Times that despite these concerns, he also thought the plan could help stave off a recession.)

Paul Krugman, the Princeton University economist and liberal columnist for The New York Times who had until now been cautiously supportive of Paulson's and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's efforts to prop up the system, wrote that the new plan would be a taxpayer rip-off. "I hate to say this, but looking at the plan as leaked, I have to say no deal," he wrote on his blog at 4:46 p.m. Saturday. "Not unless Treasury explains, very clearly, why this is supposed to work, other than through having taxpayers pay premium prices for lousy assets."

Yves Smith, a longtime banker and contributor to the influential finance blog Naked Capitalism, published an angry post there titled, "Why You Should Hate The Treasury Bailout Proposal":

"Given that continuing to buy U.S. assets will come under increasingly harsh scrutiny overseas, the U.S. needs to bend over backwards to devise a plan that at least looks credible in terms of directing the funds that come from taxpayers and lenders to their highest and best uses and implementing reforms that will restore active and prudent oversight of financial firms," she wrote. "The administration's demand for a free pass, even if Congress unwisely goes along, is likely to backfire with our foreign creditors."

-Skip-

Sebastian Mallaby, the center-right economic columnist for The Washington Post and scholar of the modern financial system, was equally dubious. "The plan is being marketed under false pretenses," he wrote in his Sunday column, rejecting comparisons of the plan to the Resolution Trust Corporation, which the government formed in response to the savings and loan crisis to purchase and sell off the bad loans made by bankrupted thrifts.

"The administration proposes to buy up bad loans before the lenders go bust," Mallaby noted, keeping the banks alive but doing little to solve the problem infecting the markets. "Bad loans are weighing down the financial system precisely because private-sector experts can't determine their worth. The government would have no better handle on the problem."

Justin Fox, Time magazine's top financial writer and columnist, also worried about the lack of an upside for the taxpayer. "What I still can't figure out is how Treasury hopes to structure the bailout so there's at least a chance of getting a fair return on that risk-taking," he wrote on his blog.

-Skip-

Zingales, though, writes in "Why Paulson Is Wrong" that "For somebody like me who believes strongly in the free market system, the most serious risk of the current situation is that the interest of a few financiers will undermine the fundamental workings of the capitalist system. The time has come to save capitalism from the capitalists."

(My bold.)
I am glad to see that there is far from unanimous agreement  amongst popular economics writers in favor of this giant toxic waste dump on the taxpayer on behalf of the folks who brought us this disaster.  I am certain that there are better ways to "save the economy" if we only look for them.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Sep 21st, 2008 at 06:04:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Others have rated this comment as follows:

Display:

Top Diaries

Italian government collapse

by IdiotSavant - Jan 15
14 comments

Dutch Government Collapse

by Oui - Jan 16
4 comments

A Rush To Judgement Day

by Oui - Jan 17
1 comment

A Long War?

by Frank Schnittger - Jan 8
77 comments

Israel and A Presidential Election

by Oui - Jan 14
24 comments

Occasional Series