Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Making Book on Paulson

An editor once proposed a picture book titled "They Must Know What They're Doing or They Wouldn't Be Where They Are," featuring the captain of the Titanic, the designer of the Edsel, LBJ running the Vietnam war and other disaster-prone people in high places.

Add Henry Paulson to the list. After pushing Congress into a panic to let him buy toxic mortgage assets, Bush's Treasury Secretary today said maybe not, announcing the plan is on hold.

At a news conference, Paulson said the $700 billion will be used instead to bolster the financial markets and, in turn, make loans more accessible for creditworthy borrowers:

“During times like these with a slowing economy and some deterioration in credit conditions, even the healthiest banks tend to become more risk-averse and restrain lending, and regulators’ actions have reinforced this lending restraint in the past.”

Four federal agencies, including the Federal Reserve and the FDIC, joined in by issuing a statement practically begging banks to step up: “Lending to creditworthy borrowers provides sustainable returns for the lending organization and is constructive for the economy as a whole.”

Paulson's turning on a dime is analogous to what the Bush Administration might have done five years ago if, after getting Congress to authorize invasion of Iraq and starting the shock and awe, they suddenly decided to stop and bomb Iran instead.

No wonder, in the face of all this fumbling, the stock market keeps going down, waiting for a signal about where all this confusion is heading.

The naming of Obama's Treasury Secretary, along with a clear statement of intentions about the financial markets, gets more urgent with each passing day.

1 comment:

Woody (Tokin Librul/Rogue Scholar/ Helluvafella!) said...

Depression is GREAT for the truly rich.

Gives 'em the chance to buy back the assets they'd leased to po'folks, but at pennies on the dollar.