Friday, September 26, 2008

mccain monkeywrench = good 


The director of the Congressional Budget Office said yesterday that the proposed Wall Street bailout could actually worsen the current financial crisis.

During testimony before the House Budget Committee, Peter R. Orszag -- Congress's top bookkeeper -- said the bailout could expose the way companies are stowing toxic assets on their books, leading to greater problems.

"Ironically, the intervention could even trigger additional failures of large institutions, because some institutions may be carrying troubled assets on their books at inflated values," Orszag said in his testimony. "Establishing clearer prices might reveal those institutions to be insolvent."


Such companies "look solvent today only because it's kind of hidden," Orszag said. "They actually are insolvent" already, he said.

In hearings on Capitol Hill so far this week, criticism of the bailout plan put forward by Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke has largely been restricted to the shape of the $700 billion proposal, how the money will be spent and what sort of oversight Treasury should have.

But Orszag yesterday questioned the wisdom of the plan itself, testifying that "it therefore remains uncertain whether the program will be sufficient to restore trust."

In yesterday's interview, Orszag said, "The key question is: What are we buying and what are we paying for it?"


More than 150 prominent U.S. economists, including three Nobel Prize winners, urged Congress to hold off on passing a $700 billion financial market rescue plan until it can be studied more closely.

In a letter yesterday to congressional leaders, 166 academic economists said they oppose Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson's plan because it's a ``subsidy'' for business, it's ambiguous and it may have adverse market consequences in the long term. They also expressed alarm at the haste of lawmakers and the Bush administration to pass legislation.


Advocates for a rescue plan this week point to a seizing up of credit markets, reflected in elevated inter-bank lending rates, as reason for action. Some economists are unconvinced.

``I suspect that part of what we're seeing in the freezing up of lending markets is strategic behavior on the part of big financial players who stand to benefit from the bailout,'' said David K. Levine, an economist at Washington University in St. Louis, who studies liquidity constraints and game theory.

and a lot more on Volokh.

The more time goes by without a deal, the more time people have to learn. The more time they have to learn, the less support there is for a bailout. We might get a shitty deal with McCain, but he may have just saved our asses.

Come to the Dahk Side, Abote.


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