Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 30 September 2008
I always enjoy being caricatured as... I suppose today it's an ignorant redneck. Usually it's destroyer of Western Civilisation. Eh, whatever.
The reality is that economists - people who actually study the economy to know how it works - are overwhelmingly against this proposal. Overwhelmingly, to the point where I've only been able to find a couple of actual economists outside the Bush administration who support it. It is opposed because it will not achieve the goals it supposedly is intended to achieve, and will impede the government's ability to achieve those same goals. Doing nothing would be very bad; doing this would be worse.
And yes, the opposition - at least, much of it - has been led by economists, and, in particular, ones who have actually been correct about this unfolding economic mess, and have been warning about it regularly over the last few years. (Nouriel Roubini, Mish Shedlock, Brad Setzer to a lesser degree, Karl Denninger, who is less economist and more investor, but is onboard and more importantly has a very good track record on this scenario to date.) Support, by contrast, is led by Fed chair Ben Bernanke (who continued insisting that there wasn't a problem for the longest time - remember the "well-contained" mantra? I do - and has gotten every key element of this wrong so far), Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson (who as CEO of Goldman Sachs, helped champion the securities which have caused this disaster), and George Bush (a multiple failure bailout-recipient as a businessman who has led arguably the worst Executive branch in the last century and a half).
And yet, those of us who have opposed this are the stupid fuckheads sinking the ship. Make no mistake; the PR blitz is on for the reconsideration on Thursday, and it's already succeeding - I can't find the link now, but recent polling has moved from "overwhelmingly against" to an even-split. The political class lost a round, and they mean to correct that mistake.
Even aside from all that, doesn't the direct parallel between this (PASS IT NOW OR WE'RE ALL DEAD!!! NOW NOW NOW NOW AAAAAAAAAAAAGH!!!!) and every other major power-claiming initiative by this administration strike anyone else as a tad suspect? Particularly given that in the conference call about this over the weekend, it was acknowledged that they wouldn't start acting for another few weeks at least? Does the fact that $680 billion in new liquidity was thrown at the markets yesterday, and even with that and the assumption that the bailout would pass, the markets were already down 40% of their declines for the day - doesn't that make anyone question this spin? At all?
One side here is - at least in part - acting on facts and on a good track record. So please do not be stampeded like this. Dig into the actual data yourself, and figure out what this "bailout" really does, and what it will do, and what it won't do, and most importantly at all, what it will prevent the government from being able to do later. Please.