Monday, September 29, 2008

What a Reject!

I'm glad that the bailout option was defeated today. Why should people be aloud to do stupid things and then have someone (the government and the entire tax-paying population) bail them out. Maybe all the rich (or "rich") people who have caused the issues should be held responsible. Isn't that what we teach our children in school?

But now what? I know the economy and the stock market are on a downward spiral, but just exactly how far will it go?

Again, I think those responsible for the bankruptcy should be required to pay, but if they had money to pay off their stuff, then I guess we wouldn't be in this mess to begin with.

I know rich people don't want to hear it, but why couldn't we have people who are making over a certain amount (let's say $150,000 a year), pay an emergency tax contribution to get things going again. I know that's not fair to them, but it's also not fair that the richest people in this country have had so many tax breaks over the past several years while the pee-ons like teachers and other low middle class people have high tax rates.

One thing's for sure, the fix probably won't suit everybody.

Here are some interesting options in a U.S. News and World Report article by Rick Newman:

  • Another try at a big bailout plan. A lot of those constituents who have been calling Congress to complain about rescuing fat cats are going to rethink their indignation as they watch the stock markets--and their own portfolios--sink. Lawmakers who voted against the bailout plan are going to have to explain why they're letting the markets collapse. The more uncomfortable voters get, the more likely Congress will be to pass some kind of sweeping relief plan. This is far from over.
  • More piecemeal bailouts. Before the big $700 billion bailout plan even existed, the Fed and the Treasury Department were already patching leaks in the financial system--one trouble spot at a time. The idea behind an umbrella bailout plan was to overhaul the whole system, establishing public standards and treating every ailing company more or less the same, before a bunch of leaks became a gusher. That would have eliminated the guesswork over whether a struggling company meets the criteria for a rescue--like AIG--or falls short, like Lehman Brothers. Now we're back to guessing. The feds still have the wherewithal to lend money, buy bad assets, or take other measures to keep ailing companies afloat. What they don't have is a single plan that applies to all companies and the authority to soak up vast amounts of bad assets. So those weekend meetings at the New York Fed, with supplicant CEOs pleading for help, are likely to continue.
  • More failed companies. Duke University finance Prof. Campbell Harvey predicts there could be 750 to 1,000 bank failures over the next six months because of billions in bad assets stemming from the housing meltdown. Scarce credit also threatens other types of companies that are already struggling and desperately need capital, such as the Detroit automakers and some of the airlines. The government will be able to deal with some of those companies one at a time, but without a comprehensive plan, others will fall through the cracks.
  • Manic markets. Investors were hoping that a big bailout plan would offer some predictability about how the government will deal with struggling companies. Their crystal ball is once again very dark. That means wild swings in stock prices as big investors try to get out of the market ahead of bad news, and get back in if it looks like the feds will ride to the rescue. One of the most volatile sectors is likely to be regional bank stocks as investors worry that banks like Sovereign Bancorp and National City might be the next to fail.
  • Patchwork regulation. There's already a system in place for dealing with failed banks--led by the FDIC--but that may not be enough to handle the damage that's unfolding. Even without a big bailout bill, Congress may have to set up a new agency to deal with dozens or hundreds of bank failures, one similar to the Resolution Trust Corp. formed in the late 1980s. We could see a whole slew of lesser regulations, too, like restrictions on certain lending practices and higher federal coverage limits on bank deposits.
  • Continued government intervention. The Federal Reserve continues to pump huge sums of money into the global banking system in a desperate effort to prompt banks to loosen their grip on loans to companies, consumers, and one another. For now, that seems to be having little effect as banks absorb the startling news from Washington and hunker down. That may lead the Fed to pump out even more money and take other important steps, like cutting interest rates. Sooner or later, that will probably help loosen things up. Until then, however, it's apparently up to the markets to fix themselves. Plan accordingly.

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