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Dave

Dave is a part-time blogger that writes about whatever suits him at the time.

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  1. Avatar North
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    says:

    Right on Dave. The good news is that it currently looks like the various GOP talking points have been falling flat. The bill has been gaining momentum as it’s proceeded through committee getting tougher as it goes rather than weaker. This is rather unusual for a bill since they typically get milder as they make the compromises necessary to advance.

    If Obama keeps on like this he could win the whole thing. The GOP is not going to win this game of chicken. They can’t be seen voting against Wall-Street reform like this, the optics are abominable. Not even the GOP is that insane.Report

    • Avatar Simon K in reply to North
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      says:

      @North, Yes. I believe the GOP has finally discovered the limits of populist agitation against legislation with popular effects. Shame it didn’t happen a little earlier or we might have gotten a less bad health care bill.Report

  2. Avatar Jaybird
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    says:

    What incentives will this create? Really?

    Will the regulations end up being written by the folks being regulated? Really?Report

    • Avatar Dave in reply to Jaybird
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      says:

      @Jaybird,

      If financial reform goes the way I think it will go, the answer will be Yes.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to Dave
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        says:

        @Dave, Same as it ever was. *shrug* But at least there should be a mechanism in place for unwinding bigger institutions and the messaging should be that if you pull a Lehman this time you’re going to get dismantled and sold for parts.Report

        • Avatar Scott in reply to North
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          says:

          @North,

          “But at least there should be a mechanism in place for unwinding bigger institutions and the messaging should be that if you pull a Lehman this time you’re going to get dismantled and sold for parts.”

          And how is that any different than what can happen in bankruptcy court?Report

          • Avatar North in reply to Scott
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            says:

            @Scott, The argument is that when a large financial institution goes bankrupt via a normal bankruptcy proceeding the panic and disruption of their business operations will cause them to seize up and implode just by virtue of having gone into bankruptcy proceedings. This fund, funded by the risky companies themselves rather than by the taxpayers at large, is supposed to allow the company to be able to be dissolved in an orderly manner with as little disruption to the overall market. But the idea that it’s a bailout is knee-slappingly funny. The companies that draw from this fund are being walked down the green mile for dissolution. Their managers are out jobs and reputation. Their shareholders are broke. Their creditors are getting pennies on the dollar.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to North
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              says:

              @North, Their creditors are getting pennies on the dollar.

              Excepting, of course, AIG.

              I’m pretty sure that someone who is not me can explain to you why it was essential that AIG’s associates got 100 cents on the dollar.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Jaybird
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                @Jaybird, Jay unless this bill somehow jumped in a TARDIS and went back in time then it had nothing to do with the dissolution of AIG. Had this bill been in place when AIG went down then according to the bill as worded and formulated AIG’s creditors would have gotten pennies on the dollar. Now you can argue that the government shouldn’t have done what they did with AIG and I’d agree tentatively with you but it’d neither here nor there with the proposed bill and fund at hand.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird
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                @North, it seems to me that it very much does.

                If it turns out that another company gets deemed too important, too intertwined, too essential to the world’s financial sectors to be allowed to fail, this bill will be abandoned.

                And then people much smarter than I am can call me clueless about how, seriously, we’d be wandering a wasteland if the associated creditors didn’t get 100 cents on the dollar.

                Despite this law having passed.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                @Jaybird, Jay, based on that statement there’s no point in passing any bills at all since the government will just abandon the written law whenever it becomes inconvenient. Now that works for libertarians I’m sure but for the rest of us we operate on the assumption that when a bill is passed the government will adhere to it.

                This bill provides, as written, a process by which large intertwined financial companies are liquidated with as little disruption to the overall economy as possible. This bill, as written, provides funding for this process via a levy on the companies that are deemed as being large and capable of in essence holding the overall economy hostage.

                As for the TARP bailouts; I’m about 50% with you on wishing we’d just let them collapse. But watching all the libertarians who specialized in financial markets trembling in their various mediums as the crisis loomed was sobering and alarming for me. On principle perhaps it would have been good to have an economic seize up followed by massive contraction and a lengthy depression. The politicians, mindful of being blamed for it, decided that they didn’t fancy going through that kind of economic harsh medicine. The electorate, in the impending election, can punish or reward them for those decisions as they will.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird
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                @North, there’s plenty of point in passing the law! The parts of the law that talk about collecting revenue and creating oversight positions with a pension and all of that stuff ought be followed to the letter.

                It’s just that when AIG has another Black Swan show up (again? so soon?), we’ll have it explained that the heady days of 2010 could not have foreseen something like this happening and while the process, in theory, would have resulted in an orderly dismantling of this one piece of the financial sector, people who really understand what’s going on know that we stand upon the precipice and, thus, cannot provide less than 100 cents on the dollar.

                Surely new regulatory regulations written by people who understand the new world in which money gets traded would work better than the blunt instruments created in 2010.

                Surely.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                @Jaybird, Maybe so Jay. But if the next disaster is anything like the last one this law should help assure an orderly dismembering of the company. And if it’s not followed then at least the libertarians can use it to sue the gov for not following it.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird
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                @North, I imagine that the law will get passed and, when it doesn’t work as advertised, it’ll be like health care.

                “This would have worked if it weren’t for all of the opposition in the first place!”

                And then, when the libertarians sue, we can ask them if they use public sidewalks until the lawsuit goes away (hey, at least the regulations were trying!).

                It’ll all end in tears. When it doesn’t work, please remember this conversation. That’s all I ask.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                @Jaybird, I’ll keep it in mind Jay, I promise. You could even be right, I’m neoliberal enough to know that it’s possible. But either way your interpretation doesn’t have much to do with the fevered delusions that the GOP is peddling with regards to this bill.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird
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                @North, to hell with the GOP. They aren’t good at the stuff they’re supposed to be bad at (unsurprising) and they aren’t good at the stuff they’re supposed to be good at (less surprising every day). They have no fundamental principle beyond getting to the next election and, if there’s a hell/purgatory, they’ll spend more time proudly explaining to each other how awesome heaven is (though with more poky proddy things than they expected) than actually wondering if, maybe, they fucked up.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Jaybird
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                @Jaybird, Lol fair enough Jay, fair enough.Report

            • Avatar Scott in reply to North
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              @North,

              Why is it so important that the gov’t wind up these companies rather than the courts? Have the courts failed somehow to do their job such that the gov’t has to take over? Also, some companies come of out of bankruptcy ready to operate again, so why condemn some companies to be broken up by the gov’t? This bill appears to create more gov’t bureaucracy for no good reason.

              Also, from what I’ve seen and heard, the new bill does little if anything to reign in the companies that did all of the credit rating for these deals. Those companies played a major role but the Dems seem to forget about them.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Scott
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                says:

                @Scott, Oh? Scott are you advocating government regulatory intrusion into the up until now relatively lightly regulated field of ratings agencies? Have ya switched sides on me Scott?Report

              • Avatar Dave in reply to Scott
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                says:

                @Scott,

                Resolution authority would take place in accordance to liquidation plans that the companies themselves would have to submit. Call it funeral plans or a living will, but in the event that the government steps in, it will use this plan as a roadmap. In theory, there is some degree to the certainty to the process and a lot more than you could get in a messy and litigious bankruptcy case.

                Have the courts failed somehow to do their job such that the gov’t has to take over?

                No, but the courts are probably not equipped to handle bankruptices of this magnitude. This is why Bear Stearns was not allowed to go into bankruptcy. Bear’s derivatives exposure was enormous and throwing that outcome of that situation would have exposed counterparties to huge risk. That’s why the Fed came in and orchestrated the sale to JPMorgan. While Lehman’s significance was not as big as Bear’s, the firm’s toxic balance sheet was such that the market knew that allowing Lehman to go into bankruptcy would cause problems and it did.

                Also, some companies come of out of bankruptcy ready to operate again, so why condemn some companies to be broken up by the gov’t?

                It’s a great incentive not to fail, but this is nothing new. The FDIC does this. The entities may not fall under the same name but they happen to find new homes and operate under new buyers.Report

              • Avatar Barry in reply to Scott
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                says:

                @Scott, IIRC, Lehman is *still* in bankruptcy court.Report

  3. Avatar Scott
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    says:

    There is no incentive in the bill for the the corp’s not to fail again as this time the corp’s know the bailout money will be there waiting for them. And the money will be administered by unelected bureaucrats those same corp’s have a close relationship to. Sounds like a great idea.Report

    • Avatar Dave in reply to Scott
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      says:

      @Scott,

      We can let another systemically important like Lehman Brothers slide into bankruptcy and take our chances. I think it worked out great last time.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Dave
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        says:

        @Dave, compared to what?

        Compared to not letting them slide into bankruptcy?

        As it turns out, Lehman Brothers weren’t *THAT* systemically important.Report

        • Avatar Dave in reply to Jaybird
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          @Jaybird,

          As it turns out, Lehman Brothers weren’t *THAT* systemically important.

          It’s not the hindsight that matters as much as how things are perceived as they happen (although I’d need clarification as to why you think they weren’t systemically significant).

          I addressed this point a couple of days ago.

          http://www.ordinary-gentlemen.com/2010/04/facts-and-assertions/Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Dave
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            says:

            @Dave, can we live without them?

            As it turns out, we can. Whether they are “significant” is besides the point. If they are involved in making bad bets and losing money and put themselves into bankruptcy… I don’t understand how we can justify taking money from people who haven’t screwed up (and foisting interest payments off on children who haven’t even had the good sense to be born yet) and giving it to Lehman.

            Let Lehman crash.

            Let the remaining businesses watch.

            This will result in far better results than *ANY* regulation could *POSSIBLY* give.

            Eventually, there won’t be enough money out there among the people who haven’t screwed up to take and give to the Financial Businesses… at which point the thing that they weren’t afraid of having happen will, in fact, happen.

            And we won’t be able to do anything about it because there’s nothing that can be done about it because they acted like GM and California rather than a business that knows that, if it fails, they’re going to be out on the street.Report

            • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to Jaybird
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              says:

              @Jaybird, Dave can correct me if I’m wrong, but the impression I get is that this proposal is specifically intended to deal with the collateral effects of a bank failure, and not to bail out the failure itself. In other words, its purpose is to protect the people who haven’t screwed up from feeling the collateral consequences of the people who have.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Mark Thompson
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                says:

                @Mark Thompson, and Obamacare was sold as a way to ensure that people like Deamonte Driver get the dental care that they need to live.Report

              • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to Mark Thompson
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                says:

                @Mark Thompson, Let me rephrase – by rule, and as currently constituted, this fund would not resuscitate any failing firms. It would also only be funded by financial firms (rather than by the taxpayers directly) and would be charged to those firms according to the risk their failure would pose to the system.* Point being that this fund, by rule, could not be used as a way of making innocent parties pay to bail out bad decisionmakers. Whether that rule would be enforced as intended may be a different issue, but given the small number of players involved and the infrequency with which we can expect this problem to pop up, it strikes me as the sort of rule that would be relatively easy to enforce uniformly. I’m not saying that I necessarily support the proposal, btw, just that it seems to address the problem in a relatively unobjectionable way and certainly in a way that is far preferable to the bailouts we got.

                *Yes, I’m aware of the calculation/regulatory capture problems inherent in determining which firms pose how much risk, but by and large this strikes me as a problem of degree rather than kind.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Mark Thompson
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                @Mark Thompson, the question isn’t whether I, in theory, would support legislation that actually comes out and does exactly what this bill would, in theory, do. Is it?

                My objection is that this, once again, will end up being a giveaway to bad actors with undue influence who will, once again, socialize losses and privatize profits.

                America is not too big to fail.

                Nothing is.Report

            • Avatar Dave in reply to Jaybird
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              says:

              @Jaybird,

              I’ll get back to you on this. It deserves a little more than a short response.Report

    • Avatar Simon K in reply to Scott
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      says:

      @Scott, Firms need an incentive not to fail? You know what fail means, right? I means gone, dead, kaput. Shareholders lost all their equity. Executives don’t have jobs any more. Failed. Gone. Dead. Thats the incentive right there.Report

    • Avatar Dave in reply to Scott
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      says:

      @Scott,

      Scott,

      The money goes to firms that are facing failure in order to facilitate an orderly liquidation. As I said above, this is nothing like TARP.Report

      • Avatar ThatPirateGuy in reply to Dave
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        says:

        @Dave,

        In fact it is more like the state paying the nice nurse who gives you your lethal injection while covering your meals and ‘boarding’ at an ‘exclusive’ location as you wait for the day.Report

    • Avatar Barry in reply to Scott
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      says:

      @Scott, at this point the guys running the very largest Wall St firms know that they will probably be bailed out (providing that their failure is catastrophic enough, which is frightening), regardless of the law. Anybody who’s Ron Paul enough to actually allow the system to go bust won’t be allowed anywhere near those positions of power, and even if they were hardcore whatever, they’d probably change their minds when they realized that they would be the people who caused Great Depression II.Report

  4. Avatar Madrocketscientist
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    So basically, if I’m understanding this correctly, financial firms will pay into a fund that will exist in order to pay for the orderly liquidation of assets?

    No money goes to paying executives, or bonuses, or shareholders, or bondholders, only to pay for the legal mess it causes.

    Do I have that right?Report

    • Avatar North in reply to Madrocketscientist
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      says:

      @Madrocketscientist, Pretty much yes. Think of it in car terms. If a car (firm) is about to run out of gas (collapse) this fund will give it enough oomph to drive it into a junkyard for orderly dissassembly rather than letting it collapse in the middle of the freeway and cause traffic jams and collisions.Report

      • Avatar MadRocketScientist in reply to North
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        says:

        @North, So how is that different from bankruptcy?Report

        • Avatar North in reply to MadRocketScientist
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          @MadRocketScientist, Not very except that with normal bankruptcy you just end up on the side of the road and the economy zips on past you with no disruption because your little car can’t impede the operation of the market. But if a tractor trailer full of explosives is coughing and about to go sideways in a four lane interstate then it is in the interests of everyone that it get enough fuel to be pulled out of traffic. Especially if that fuel is being paid for by all the tractor trailers that may be in danger of going into this situation.Report

          • Avatar MadRocketScientist in reply to North
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            says:

            @North,
            And what is to stop the Fed.gov from raiding this piggy bank when they need a cash infusion not related to the financial failures?Report

            • Avatar North in reply to MadRocketScientist
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              @MadRocketScientist, Well, since the fund is to be administered by either the Fed/Treasury or by this new agency it’ll be pretty much tied up for that purpose. It’s not like this money is going into the general funds, like say, social security does. So I don’t think there’s much legal or accounting basis to be concerned that the Feds will, for example, spend this fund on welfare or canola subsidies.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to North
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                @North, So I don’t think there’s much legal or accounting basis to be concerned that the Feds will, for example, spend this fund on welfare or canola subsidies.

                “Look, all of that money is just *SITTING* there and children are dying and the economy is booming and you suggest we sit idly by and do nothing?”Report

              • Avatar North in reply to North
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                says:

                @North, That’s certainly a basic meat and potatoes libertarian position against taxation and government intrusion into the market in general Jay. Setting that aside, dedicated funds typically can’t be plundered the way general funds can be. Not as easily or quietly at least.Report

  5. Avatar Katherine
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    says:

    Clueless? I think “shameless lying” is more on the mark.Report

  6. Avatar Rufus
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    “Rep. Boehner is a textbook case that demonstrates if one’s understanding of the financial crisis are limited to “the government did it” (i.e. Fannie and Freddie, amongst other popular scapegoats), then the chances that they will make a meaningful contribution to the financial reform debate are slim.”

    I used to read a blog that made increasingly extreme versions of this argument- at one point, it was that the bailout caused the recession and otherwise the economy would have been fine- and I would print them out and ask my father in law (the Deloitte CFO guy) what he thought of them. Invariably, he would look at me with this expression that I’m sure would have been the same if I’d taken out my dick at a family gathering.Report

  7. Avatar Jaybird
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    says:

    I happen to have read this today:

    http://www.jerrypournelle.com/view/2010/Q2/view619.html#ratings

    Is it relevant at all?Report

  8. Avatar North
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    says:

    Jay, I’d ask you the same think I asked Scott; Are you suggesting that there should be some kind of government regulation of Ratings Agencies?
    And that said I’d also ask more out of curiosity; my understanding is that currently the rating market is pretty much unregulated by the government so what/where is the hand of the free market moving to punish the rating agencies for their mis-rating fiasco?Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to North
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      @North, in a perfect world? Sure. Absolutely. In an imperfect world… well, I’ll excerpt the Pournelle link I posted above.

      Let me tell you a fairy tale.

      Once upon a time the CEO of Consolidated Dust went to the investment bank Goldie, Locks and asked for help. Goldie, Locks went to Moody and Poor and said, “Well, our clients pay you millions a year for their ratings. We’re very pleased to recommend you to them. Indeed, we like to have all our clients rated by the same agency, and yours is the one we’ve been choosing. Change of subject. We have a new client, Consolidated Dust. They’ll need a rating.” Shortly after, Moody and Poor rated Consolidated Dust Bonds as AA, not quite as good as Treasury but pretty good stuff and with a high return rate. Then Goldie, Locks bundled the Consolidated Dust bonds into a derivative and got a rating on the derivative, and sold that to others, and Goldie, Locks collected commissions on all those transactions, and everyone was happy for a while. And when it all collapsed, Moody and Poor told everyone how sorry they were, but after all, it’s not an exact science, and…

      I don’t know that government regulation of ratings agencies would work one iota better than government regulation of banking.

      Maybe this would be an area where monopoly would be preferable to competition… I don’t know.

      One would think that the ratings agencies would suffer magnificently in the trust department. Have they?

      If not, why not?Report

      • Avatar North in reply to Jaybird
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        says:

        @Jaybird,
        I don’t think I follow your first part. In a perfect world there shouldn’t be regulation of ratings (and should be in our imperfect real world?) or vice versa?
        To be honest I don’t know if the ratings agencies have suffered either in terms of trust or profits. But as far as I’ve been able to tell they’re largely bereft of government regulation so this begs the question; here we have a market largely free of statist interference, where is the correction?Report

      • Avatar Barry in reply to Jaybird
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        says:

        @Jaybird, Government regulation of banking has worked pretty d*mn well; please note that the Wall St crash was not caused by banks, but by firms who were not regulated as banks.

        This is what’s pissing off some here; people are just repeating tired old slogans and lies, again and again and again…Report

  9. Avatar Bob Cheeks
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    Let’s see: the commie-dems control both houses and the White House.
    commie-dem policy (Freddie Mac, Fanny May) resulted in an economic collapse.
    Therefore the stupid party (GOP) is to blame.
    You guys is smart!Report

  10. Avatar Bob Cheeks
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    Thank you, gentlemen. Sarah thanks you too. However, if it looks like a duck….!Report

  11. Avatar glasnost
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    It continues to amaze me watching people advocate for “just let them fail next time”.

    First of all, letting “them fail” in 2008 would have led to … wait for it… A MASSIVE TAXPAYER BAILOUT! Because the FDIC had *nowhere* near the reserves required to pay back the deposits of every BoA accountholder, every Citi account holder, every Wachovia accountholder, etc. And when you watched half of the major banks in this country go bankrupt, and the stories started coming out about how it might be years before depositors got reimbursed, then the OTHER half of the major banks in this country would have been annihilated by bank runs.

    Why are people so fucking stupid and incapable of connecting the dots? Armageddon isn’t just a pipe dream. There’s a very specific chain of events that would have occured. It starts with the dissapearance – poof – of trillions in assets of the average US consumer along with bankrupt banks, and the *dissapearance* of credit. 300 million credit cards, belly-up; 800 million ATM’s going “beep, beep, sorry, try again later”. And BAM. You’re paying in cash, gold coins, and barter all across America.

    You think this recession is bad? Do you libertarians have any goddamn idea of the kind of layoffs produced by the overnight collapse of the banking sector? That’s where the 25% unemployment comes from – the systemic shock millions of households who were middle class last night and the next morning have nothing with which to purchase consumer goods beyond their next paycheck – which will have to be paid in cash.

    You should thank your goddamn lucky stars for the bailouts. They were heinous, and evil, and unfair, but so are hostage negoitations. There’s a choice. You can punish the bad guy, or you can keep the hostages’ brains inside their skulls and off the walls. Thanks, I’ll take living with injustice over living in the street.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to glasnost
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      @glasnost, dude, I’m right here.

      You really think that the bailouts kept you from there being millions of empty homes with roving bands of homeless on the streets?

      For the record, it’s difficult for me to separate this scenario from the one in which Republicans explain to me the importance of Patriot by explaining that my wife/children are still alive.

      I’m guessing that the payments to AIG can be separated from, say, a “bailout” to the FDIC. Are they entertwined in your scenario?

      From here, I’ve seen it explained that there was a huge trust deficit and no one was willing to loan money… until, of course, the government started pouring money into their hands.

      Then, of course, were they able to find it in their heart to trust again.

      I’m not asking you to find this scenario fishy. You obviously don’t. That’s great. Diff’rent Strokes.

      What I am asking you to do is wrap your head around whether someone might not, in fact, trust the government and investment banks when they say that this is what is going to happen without massive infusions of cash so that they can cover their own bad bets.Report

      • Avatar Barry in reply to Jaybird
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        says:

        @Jaybird, Then go to various liberal economists and financial experts, and see what *they* said.

        You know, some sort of independent verification is actually possible.

        If you want, I’ll loan you my internet, so that you don’t have to go down to the public library, and fiddle with the microfilm reader.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Barry
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          says:

          @Barry, I am perfectly aware that there were a ton of liberal economists and financial experts who said that bailouts were necessary to save the world.

          I am also aware that if I go into any given barbershop and ask the barber if he thinks I need a trim, he’ll say “yeah”.Report

    • Avatar Dave in reply to glasnost
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      @glasnost,

      Do you libertarians have any goddamn idea of the kind of layoffs produced by the overnight collapse of the banking sector? That’s where the 25% unemployment comes from – the systemic shock millions of households who were middle class last night and the next morning have nothing with which to purchase consumer goods beyond their next paycheck – which will have to be paid in cash.

      Of course I have a goddamned idea since I was laid off of my Wall Street job in early 2008. I watched the crisis begin a year before TARP became a household name.

      I also have 15 years of capital markets experience and an academic background in finance so I know a few things about what happened.Report

  12. Avatar Barry
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    There’s a quote from Judge Learned Hand which I’m unable to locate, about economic reforms during the Great Depression. He said that he didn’t like FDR’s ideas, but that all that the right had to offer was the tired bleating, with nothing new and no wisdom (quote very much from memory).

    That’s how I feel about the glibertarian[1] contribution to our economic debates. These people have seen stuff which their economics didn’t predict[2], but their views are still the same old boilerplate.

    – Barry
    [1] Actual thinking libertarians very much excepted, but they are ~10% of the alleged libertarian crowd. On a good day.

    [2] Except for the Austrians, but then again if they ever stop predicting disaster, the Rapture will be at hand.Report

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