Monday, March 23, 2009

Prolonging the Inevitable on Wall Street and Making Things Worse for Main Street

U. of Texas government/business relations professor James Galbraith predicts dire consequences ahead with Obama's current trajectory of helping banks buy toxic assets:
When a bank's insolvency is ignored, the incentives for normal prudent banking collapse. Management has nothing to lose. It may take big new risks, in volatile markets like commodities, in the hope of salvation before the regulators close in. Or it may loot the institution -- nomenklatura privatization, as the Russians would say -- through unjustified bonuses, dividends, and options. It will never fully disclose the extent of insolvency on its own.

The most likely scenario, should the Geithner plan go through, is a combination of looting, fraud, and a renewed speculation in volatile commodity markets such as oil. Ultimately the losses fall on the public anyway, since deposits are largely insured ....

The oddest thing about the Geithner program is its failure to act as though the financial crisis is a true crisis -- an integrated, long-term economic threat -- rather than merely a couple of related but temporary problems, one in banking and the other in jobs.

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