Skip to comments.Shock Forced Paulson's Hand - <i>A Black Wednesday on Credit Markets; 'Heaven Help Us All'</i>
Posted on 09/19/2008 5:52:08 PM PDT by politicket
When government officials surveyed the flailing American financial system this week, they didn't see only a collapsed investment bank or the surrender of a giant insurance firm. They saw the circulatory system of the U.S. economy -- credit markets -- starting to fail.
Huddled in his office Wednesday with top advisers, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson watched his financial-data terminal with alarm as one market after another began go haywire. Investors were fleeing money-market mutual funds, long considered ultra-safe. The market froze for the short-term loans that banks rely on to fund their day-to-day business. Without such mechanisms, the economy would grind to a halt. Companies would be unable to fund their daily operations. Soon, consumers would panic.
(Excerpt) Read more at online.wsj.com ...
One more “free” fix to a dying junkie. This will get him up on his feet, but not for long.
True. A stong followthrough over the next few days can be used to reduce equity exposure.
But what an awesome ride that delay is! almost 800 points in two days. I'm a little more optimistic over Paulson's $500B plan to buy junk securities and sell them "later". All he has to do is make it $5T or perhaps 50T and we'll be all set (until the next credit bubble).
Reduce exposure to equities in favor of what? I’m out of equities, but am unsure where to turn. Gold? So far, that little number has not done me much good.
Yeah, the markets just luv this decision—for the moment. I’m sure more screw ups will come to the forefront now that the Candy Store is open and everything is for the taking. Wait till commercial banks start to fail and there is no $$ left to fund the FDIC. Then the only choices are default or hyperinflation. Either way, Joe Average looses his savings. Unlike Enron, the MSM will be as quiet and compliant as a mouse.
Fasten your seatbelts, it going to be a wild ride.
Folks need to understand the fear that gripped these men. The international banks dumped $300 billion into the international market late Wednesday night and it did NOTHING to increase liquidity in the market on Thursday morning.
All of the games that the banks and investment firms have been playing on a massive scale since the early 1990's were coming home to roost.
The Treasury and Fed told Bush that he didn't have a choice and we now have a nationalized investment industry.
Watch these men as they speak to the country. They are SCARED! Their "solution" is simply an effort to fool people and prolong the obvious.
On the other hand he is an ignorant Ahole, so you might be right.
Shock? Was he in a cave the last 10 years?
True, but if you look at all of the various signals from today you can see that the financial pros aren't buying it. They are simply along for the short-term ride that was inevitable since the U.S. government is "guaranteeing" the financial funds and the SEC banned investors from shorting any financials. So much for an "efficient" market!
Goldman got to the level it went public at 11 years ago.
Shareholders=zero return....goldman employee bonuses=$100 billion+....the biggest being 2007, when they knew the system was insolvent. Greedy pigs/criminals.
I went to cash last December and have added a little Silver to my portfolio as a hedge against inflation (which is currently in the 12 - 15% range instead of the number that they lie about).
To save his stinking stock market and banks he is willing to destroy the country!
Yeah, one last short squeeze for the record books and now that goose is dead too.
Thanks for the info. I gotta confess, I’m not to certain that even cash is a good place to be right now.
THE DUMBEST MAN IN AMERICA
by Bill Bonner
Where did he go wrong? The question probably crossed his mind perhaps even when he mounted the scaffold on January 21, 1793. The Bourbons had been the most successful family in Europe. They had ruled Europe’s biggest and richest country since Henry IV. And now they were on thrones all over Europe. But in the language of the City, Louis 16th blew himself up. He was supposed to be an absolute monarch. Ah there was the dynamite! He believed it. He had surrounded the Parliament with troops and turned the country against him. And now, he had absolutely no control over anything. Not even the power to save his own skin.
“Sire, you have committed something worse than a crime; you have committed an error ” Talleyrand might have told him. Poor Louis! He already had the bag over his head. And the blade at his neck. He must have felt like the dumbest man in France.
Dick Fuld must have felt pretty dumb too. His firm had survived the Civil War, the Railroad Bankruptcies of the late 19th century, the Bankers’ Panic of 1907, the Crash of ‘29, the Great Depression, WWII, the Cold War; Lehman Bros. had outlasted spats, prohibition and disco music. But it couldn’t keep its head through the biggest financial boom in history.
John Edwards, recently claimed the title of the “dumbest man in America,” when the press got wind that he was two-timing his wife and running for president at the same time. But Edwards has more competition every day. By Monday of this week, Fuld had completely destroyed Lehman Bros. In January of 2007, the financial industry put a value on the firm - a company it knew well - of $48 billion. This week, the bid went to zero. And then, on Wednesday, came more disquieting news: the world’s largest insurance company, AIG, was failing. Martin Sullivan had run it into the ground, said the analysts. Now, it needed an $85 billion bailout.
There was no one there to bail out Louis when he needed it. France was not too big to fail; it was too big to bail out. And everything had been going so well! When Jacques Turgot was Controller-General, he was getting rid of the internal customs barriers, lifting price controls, abolishing the trade guilds and the corvee (the system of forced labor used to build roads). The political system was being reformed too - evolving towards a parliamentary democracy.
But along came those plucky Americans to stir up trouble. They sucked France into war with Britain. France supplied money, materiel and troops - landing 5,000 soldiers in Rhode Island and ultimately winning the war by blockading Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown.
“The first shot will drive the state to bankruptcy,” Turgot warned the king. He was right. By 1786, the French were in desperate straits, with half the population of Paris unemployed and a national debt equal to 80% of GDP. The French were counting on the Americans to begin repaying their $7 million in loans, but the United States was broke too. And soon, French credit was so bad, the king could no longer borrow from the moneylenders in Amsterdam nor even from his own creditors in Paris. Having borrowed too much, Louis no longer had any room to maneuver. All he could do was to march up the scaffold steps like a real monarch
And now the heads roll on Wall Street. James Cayne at Bear Stearns. Stanley O’Neal at Merrill Lynch. Charles Prince of Citigroup. But who’s the dumbest? Surely Dan Mudd and Dick Syron at Fannie and Freddie are still in the running. Even with the deck stacked in their favor, they couldn’t stay in the game. And let’s not forget the rescuers - Ben Bernanke and Hank Paulson. They’ve practically nationalized not only America’s mortgage industry but, taking an 80% stake in AIG, the insurance industry too! Where does the money come from? It’s borrowed too - hundreds of billions worth. Surely, there’s a guillotine waiting for them somewhere.
The last 15 years have been too kind to finance. Wall Street and the City are essentially debt mongers; and in the boom, nobody didn’t want to borrow. Financial profits soared. Since 1980 the profits of the U.S. financial sector as a portion of GDP have gone up 200%. Industry owners and managers could have taken their money off the table and retired to Greenwich. But on the back of this outsize success grew a monstrous hump of self-delusion; the masters of the universe began to believe their own grotesque guff. The financial markets were perfect, said the academics. All-knowing and all-seeing, they wouldn’t make a mistake. And the chiefs at the big financial firm must have thought they supped with the gods themselves; they had the paychecks to prove it.
Of course, some Wall Street bosses were more cunning than others. In selling itself to Bank of America, for example, Merrill Lynch dodges the scaffold; but it becomes a ward of the state, almost like Fannie and Freddie before they were kidnapped outright. Bank of America has easy access to Fed funds; Merrill figures it might need more money too.
The old regime on Wall Street was dominated by just five large investment companies. But the more they talked their own books, they more they came to think it was true - they were all too big, too smart and too rich to fail. Not only did they package and sell explosive packages of debt; they put the stuff in their own vaults too. Now, Lehman, Bear, and Merrill have blown themselves up. Only two more to go.
He had two options:
A) Nationalize the financial industry and have the taxpayer and Treasury cover what they estimate to be $1 trillion in bad assets (it will be more than that). This "fixes" the problem for a very short time, destroys the worth of the dollar in terms of buying power (it will still look OK next to foreign currencies since they are in the same boat), causes real inflation to skyrocket, and gives the largest debtor nation on the planet (us) an immense amount of extra debt.
B)Let the chips fall where they needed to so that our nation might have some chance at economic recovery. This would involve massive unemployment, many people losing their homes, savings, retirement income, etc.
As hard as it sounds, we needed option B. Option A does not actually solve anything, and it will just get worse.
Paulson is just another bought and paid for hack.
The best place to be is out of debt and with a plan to sustain yourself and your family should things get really ugly. Talk with neighbors, or church members, about how assistance to each other can be structured.
If it's not needed - great. If it is needed then you will be one of the few that have planned wisely.
True, buying a $100,000.00 house for $400,000.00 is not smart.
Option B would have given us President Hussein a Congress with a 2/3 Dem Majority to remake America in ways you do not want to imagine.
This story is amazing.
We almost saw the downturn move from Wall Street to your local bank this week...our leaders have moved fast and averted it for now.
I hope to God Congress passes this law...and quickly.
I hope they don't. It's not a solution and will only prolong what's coming and make it worse for all concerned.
Difference of opinion...
While that is possible, I think that the opposite would have been just as likely - a desire to see a President in office that had experience (albeit lots of bad ideas) versus a guy like Obambi who is just plain studid (not trying to be mean to the guy - just stating obvious fact).
One tries to stand back, not get upset, and take the long view, but it is really hard to avoid getting really angry at the crooks, incompetents, idiots and scoundrels. Say, has anyone heard from Greenspan in the last 24hrs.
Why do I suspect that Karl Marx is smiling in his grave?
Actually, it sounds like he is taking option C: take all the bad paper off of the scoundrels who got us into this mess so that they are free to do it again.
Where do you keep the cash? In the bank? Floating in the market?
Lots of the crooks are lying low. For good reason.
Because this is how he said capitalists behave - steal from the working class to give to the bourgeoisie. What is happening is not socialism. It is state sponsored corporatism a la 3rd world dictatorships.
They need to be lain low.
However, the alternative this week was Wall Street firms crashing, then big banks going down, then runs on your local bank.
And following would be huge unemployment.
The paradox and wonderful thing is, even the announcement of the plan has gotten money moving again...thank God. They have bought some time and given our financial system hope. But if we near the same crisis the plan must be implemented.
In a mixture of banks and other holding facilities so I will not lose it all if one goes belly up. It is all very liquid. I refrained from putting 15% of my corporate income into my SEP (Self-employment pension plan) this year due to wanting to stay "quicker on my feet" and not have that money so illiquid.
They have bought some time = Yes
and given our financial system hope. = No
BTW, I am glad to see that the efforts of a few of us to push this word into the lexicon is gaining momentum. Socialism is making other people do things "for their own good," sort of smug self-satisfied belief that you know better than other people. That is not what this is about. This is about taking OPM and stuffing it in your own pocket.
“Reduce exposure to equities in favor of what? Im out of equities, but am unsure where to turn. Gold? So far, that little number has not done me much good.”
You can’t eat gold. Better to buy in to lead, smokless power, and guns. Canned foods and dry goods. These things will increase a 100 fold in the coming years.
The fact that the announcement of the plan was the only thing that saved the DOW from a huge crash last Wednesday proves you are wrong.
A large part of the scare was that local banks experienced a run on CD's and so-called safe investments. Paulson's announcement of the plan reversed it. Thank God.
There were obviously a lot of mistakes made on the way to Wednesday.
But there is no way that allowing the entire financial system to collapse could ever be considered a solution.
It wasn’t hard to STOP that disaster. Even if in a month they say “we worked really hard, but we couldn’t put together the RTC to get through congress”, we might be beyond the crisis, because in the interim people might have been scared enough to start straightening things out.
Sometimes you need a time out.
Of course, I fully expect they’ll pass something. And we won’t like it. But it might work anyway.
It’s hard to figure out what is a “safe investment”, when you find out that the money market funds used for the solid cash portion of every portfolio were on the verge of being bankrupted.
I’ve been joking about having a couple of thousand dollars in cash just in case, but apparently on Wednesday there was a real chance that every credit card in America might have stopped working.
But buy that $100K house for $40K right now while you still can, and you have yourself a deal. After all, you need to live somewhere. Later, you can dig up the gold you buried in the backyard and trade it for however many yuan the dollar value has been replaced with.
This is the elephant in the living room that nobody is talking about. Thursday morning this was the big story. Thursday afternoon, it had vanished amidst the ongoing turmoil. I believe this is what really spooked Paulson et al into the "mother of all bailouts".
The other thing I find amazing is the modest number of replies on these threads. This is the biggest news in my lifetime and everybody is off talking about Sarah Palin's emails. Is everybody in shock that this is going down and can't face the reality that America is broke?
Osama bin Laden said he wanted to bankrupt America. We just may save him the trouble and do it ourselves.
You would of thought Long Term Capital Management would of taught them something.. they(meaning the big banks) had to bail them out.
Funny thing was that instead of learning they all did something although they thought to a lesser degree of leverage and exposure.
Boy were they wrong.
I never understood allowing short selling in the first place.
Where else in the market can you borrow something.. sell it.. and then buy it back later? Real Estate?
I say get real.
Market forces are about buying and selling.. letting the market determing the price of something.
Short sellers create artfical activity that would otherwise never take place... and yes that means when short sellers close a gap too.
Short selling is gambling.. always has been.. and I believe never been healthy for a market.
I hear you. I am livid with rage at these people squandering the wealth of the most egalitarian economy the world has ever known because of a fear of standing up to class warfare tactics.
If you believe in the free market you will see that shorting is actually the free markets at work.
Illegal naked selling (sliding thru the loopholes by not actually taking possession of shares you borrow) is another story.
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