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Bailout Bullshit

BailoutBoulevard.gifThis opinion piece in Bloomberg is worth repeating in its entirety. Kudos to Jonathan Weil for calling a spade a spade. The bailout is hyper-inflationary ‘my friends.’ Out of dollars and into gold. I am buying CEF, SKF, SRS and EEV. I don’t think enough people understand the relevance and magnitude of what is going on. Alarmist? Nah, we are basically screwed.

“Maybe Congress isn’t so dumb after all.

The fatal flaw in Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson’s $700 billion bailout plan was that it wouldn’t fix the problem: Too many important financial institutions don’t have enough capital.

BAILOUT3w.jpgIf the government wants to save dying banks before they take others down with them, it should choose the clean and direct path: Inject capital into them. Take ownership stakes in return. And, where that’s not feasible, seize them and sell their assets in an orderly way, just as the Resolution Trust Corp. did after the 1980s savings-and-loan crisis.

Only after a company’s shareholders and debt holders have been flattened should taxpayers take a hit. And for a $700 billion investment, U.S. taxpayers should get a lot more in return than a gargantuan pile of toxic waste.

For that much money, at yesterday’s prices, the government could buy 23 of the 24 banks in the KBW Bank Index, including Bank of America Corp. and Wells Fargo & Co. And it still would have money left to buy a stake in JPMorgan Chase & Co., the largest company in the index.

Infusing capital directly, though, was too simple for Paulson. It lacked subterfuge. He decided the way to save the financial system from the evils of structured finance was through more structured finance.

Instead of asking Congress to let Treasury recapitalize needy banks, he proposed buying some of their troubled assets at above-market prices. This would have let other banks create phony capital by writing up the values of similar assets on their own balance sheets, using Treasury’s prices as their guide.

Small Wonder

In short, Paulson’s plan was one part robbery (with the banks doing the robbing) and one part accounting sleight of hand. No wonder House members rejected it.

If Paulson or congressional leaders devise a Plan B, they should look to the example of Fortis, Belgium’s biggest financial-services company. This week, the governments of Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg invested 11.2 billion euros ($16.3 billion) in Fortis. In exchange, they got ownership of almost half its banking business.

That’s how a government intervention is supposed to work. The company gets fresh capital, which has the added benefit of not being fake. The buyers get equity. Legacy shareholders get slammed with dilution. And if the company recovers, the government can sell shares to the public later, maybe even at a profit.

Such simplicity might feel unnatural to someone like Paulson, who used to run Goldman Sachs Group Inc., or a congressman such as Barney Frank who depends on campaign checks from bankers like an infant needs mother’s milk. And lots of taxpayers might object anyway, because it still would involve sending big checks to banks.

Gaining Understanding

At least voters could understand a plan in the European mold, which might lead them to be more forgiving about any unpleasant details. That’s better than trying to scare the public into supporting a bailout that doesn’t make sense.

As for the illiquid assets still on banks’ balance sheets, the best way to find out what they’re worth is to start disclosing every conceivable piece of data about them, right down to the daily cash flows they produce. A big reason subprime mortgage-related securities aren’t selling is that outsiders can’t see what’s underlying them on a timely basis.

Remove the kimonos, and capitalism will take its course. At some price, buyers will emerge, once they can see what they’re buying. Banks could clear their books. The companies that are able to attract fresh capital would survive. And the ones that couldn’t would die, as they should.

What Congress must remember is that Americans don’t exist at the pleasure of the country’s banks. It’s supposed to be the other way around. There’s still time for the politicians to come up with a rescue plan that will work. The important part is making sure you and I get something of value in return for our money.”

Click here for original article in Bloomberg

And for some true bipartisanship… both Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich say the bailout plan is bullshit.

Contact your representative right now and tell them not to pass the bailout in its current form. Or sit there and get robbed while handing massive debt to your children, debasing your currency and delaying and exasperating the inevitable.

By | 2017-03-23T14:06:38+00:00 October 3rd, 2008|Gold & Silver Commentary|

About the Author:

Jason is the founder of goldstockbull.com. He previously worked in data analytics for the world's largest research firm, consulting to Fortune 500 companies globally. Jason eventually leveraged those skills to trade successfully full-time and after helping friends and family optimize their investments, he launched Gold Stock Bull and The GSB Contrarian Report newsletter. Jason is a cycles investor with a contrarian eye for identifying undervalued assets. He has built an expertise in both the precious metals and cryptocurrency markets. Jason believes in honest money, limited government, decentralization of power and enjoys studying alternative economic models.