Wednesday, September 17, 2008

It hits the fan: is the fan at risk?

So much of 'it' has hit the fan, that fan could soon break.

Angry politicians stamp their feet!
Politicians are angry the Fed has one guy who was not elected, Ben Bernanke, who committed $85bn to take control of AIG and they (Certainly Barney Frank is) are hopping bad. Barney Frank has an approach: he has set up hearing in about one week.

That would solve AIG's problems, wouldn't it? It's a meeting, not an action, and it will take place in one week, not today. it's a real solution...

That's the problem. Politicians and committees move SSSssslloowwww.

When financial markets go off kilter they need decisions and actions now, men and women of action, not of rhetoric.

Rhetoric is rhetoric is ZZZzzz....
What we are hearing from politicians is election year boiler plate as they are concerned about taxpayer money after having whole careers of squandering the same. But it's not a squandering they could vote on this time. Nor could they trade votes and get some pork barrel stuff for their own district in exchange for their vote. Bernanke just did it. Fait accompli.

Boy they hate that! Be careful when you cut out the middle man!

The Big Guns lurk and past decisions perc
John McCain and Barack Obama are in the process of figuring out where they stand. Both seem to be blaming regulators and it's hard to disagree with them. Market mis-judgments bad analysis- a lot of factors combined to get us where we are.

So long, Alan Greenspan...
A 'golden age' of de-regulation has just ended, marked by as much as anything Alan Greenspan's departure from the Fed. During his tenure with access to that 'bully pulpit' he testified loudly and often for less regulation everywhere. Arguably his own failure to enforce his own oversight responsibilities at the Fed had a lot to with how bad things eventually got. He directed one Fed governor to not investigate reports of odd goings on in mortgage lending, allowing those practices a few more years to build and percolate. A 'great experiment' with quantitative research on Wall Street has also proved a bust.

Barney Frank looked at the Fed's decision to let Lehman Bros. sink then turn around to seize AIG calling that intervening one day a great 'one day' of capitalism. He 'threatened to make it a holiday celebrating capitalism. Would Mr Frank really rather live in a world where AIG goes belly up? This is an example of the kind of vitriol and cynicism that is at work. But where the rubber meets the road -- at the Fed policy session - economic theology gives way. It is easy for Frank or Shelby to 'dis' the Fed. THEY did not have to deal with the consequences of any bankruptcies or decide if to stop them. They just get to jaw bone.

The great shadow-leaders
These guys - Shelby and Frank- are into market events. They knew Lehman and AIG were in trouble In the past they have not been unwilling to give the Fed advice on how to do things. IF they HAD WANTED TO THEY COULD HAVE called the Fed chairman and TOLD HIM what THEY wanted instead of waiting until after the fact and being critical. I'm betting they did not interfere in the pre-decision situation because they did not have an idea what to do and they did not want to be party to whatever decision the Fed, given its bad menu of choices., decided on.

Everything is in flux and no one likes what is going on - least of all the Fed, the institution with its hand on the switch..

The run up in gold today is one of the most disconcerting events. If gold is looked upon as a solution the paper money economy is in even more trouble.

Politicians are in the center of this in an election year, it's a very bad dilemma for the economy and poor timing for an election. One reason the treasury is not more aggressive is the realization that the NEXT president whoever it may be, will bear the burden. Its a tough time to be changing horses in mid-stream, especially on such treacherous footing and with such a fast moving and shifting current.

Too bad you can't solve these problems by field-dressing a moose or giving a good speech... If so, both camps would have a cake walk.