Monday, September 29, 2008

Public Doesn't Get It

Failure To Communicate: Reading email responses of Americans opposed and fearful of the government's $700 billion bailout plan for the financial markets indicates they don't understand that the alternative of doing nothing is guaranteed calamity. All they understand is the government making them liable to save the ones who created the mess. "I had to pull my 401(k) to make ends meet," said a "pissed off" New Mexico woman who was among 2,000 who responded to an NBC survey. "Because of greed and corruption it has come to this," said a woman, 70, who said she has to continue working to survive. Many questioned whether the bailout plan would help the middle class. Pardon the pun, but Joe Six Pack is forced to cram for a crash course in capitalism. The dynamics of our financial markets are so complex even Nobel Laureate economists are hard pressed to explain them. And that is part of the problem. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson is a superb negotiator as he has proven in the bailout deliberations with Congress but he has failed to articulate his case to the American public. It has been a flaw in the Bush administration since taking office in 2001. This failure to articulate fed into a credibility gap where little the administration says is believable in the public mindset. You can't blame the public's skepticism in this case. Unfortunately, there's too much evidence that drastic measures must be taken to avoid a worldwide depression. The Paulson plan, now a bill being debated in Congress, is a gamble to restore confidence in the market system and allow resumption of credit for individuals and businesses. Either that or deja vu of the late 1920s.
Lighting the Christmas Tree: The bailout bill has so many protections for taxpayers and oversight conditions on Treasury and the failed bank and money market institutions that one wonders if they don't trip over each other and impede the Treasury from carrying out out its mission. Caps and penalties were placed on executive golden parachutes for those companies participating in the federal bailout. But the plans to help homeowners struggling to make mortgage payments is incredibly iffy. The government will buy only the worst mortgage assets, leaving more valued ones in the pool for banks to worry about. Previous legislation and the White House's Hope Now Alliance aimed towards lenders voluntarily readjusting mortgages to lower rates has failed while mortgage foreclosures increased to 9%. Treasury officials hope they can leverage the recalcitrant lenders into submission. Good luck.
My Take: Approve the bailout plan and keep your fingers crossed. We live in a credit/debit card society. One wonders after the dust settles if it will become more cash and carry. Main Street must remain patient. This is no overnight fix.

Tale of Two Halves: My Chargers are giving me ulcers. Spotting the Oakland Raiders 15 points in the first half, San Diego rallied slowly in the third quarter and scored 25 in the fourth to win going away 28-18. With the season at the quarter pole their record at 2-2 remains both telling and teasing. Telling because they remain inconsistent performing on all cylinders for an entire game. Teasing because each game shows positive adjustments of just how much they can achieve with all that talent and depth chart. It's tough to swallow Buffalo and Tennessee remain undefeated in the American Conference.

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