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Sunday, September 21, 2008

For the benefit of banks

Just in case you were wondering if the government was actually more concerned about American citizens or its banker friends around the world:

In a change from the original proposal sent to Capitol Hill, foreign-based banks with big U.S. operations could qualify for the Treasury Department’s mortgage bailout, according to the fine print of an administration statement Saturday night. The theory, according to a participant in the negotiations, is that if the goal is to solve a liquidity crisis, it makes no sense to exclude banks that do a lot of lending in the United States. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson confirmed the change on ABC's "This Week," telling George Stephanopoulos, calling the coverage of foreign-based banks "a distinction without a difference to the American people."

The financial community didn't want to take its medicine back in 1999, so they put it off. Now they're facing amputation, so they're putting it off again. In the long run, they're dead, of course, the problem is that each purchase of time to benefit the financial elite costs the American people dearly.

None of this is actually necessary. It's only necessary in order to preserve the Federal Reserve's failing monopoly over US money. Back when there were hundreds of competing bank currencies, a bank failure meant that those who held its currency suffered. Now that there's a government-granted monopoly, a failure means that everyone will suffer. The fact that centralized money operates no better than centralized anything else should not surprise anyone capable of understanding the supply-demand curve.

UPDATE - Even the Washington Post recognizes that this preemptive bailout scheme is an insane idea likely to cause more problems than it solves:"With truly extraordinary speed, opinion has swung behind the radical idea that the government should commit hundreds of billions in taxpayer money to purchasing dud loans from banks that aren't actually insolvent. As recently as a week ago, no public official had even mentioned this option. Now the Treasury, the Fed and congressional leaders are promising its enactment within days. The scheme has gone from invisibility to inevitability in the blink of an eye. This is extremely dangerous."

UPDATE II - As you'd expect, Ron Paul is one of the few politicians who actually understands what's going on and what should be done:

What's your take on this huge financial bailout?

"It's more of the same. More debt and more inflation and more pressure on the dollar. Ultimately, although the markets are responding very favorably at the moment, I think it is going to be devastating to the dollar and to our financial situation in this country."

So instead of having taxpayers buy the bad debt, the market should take care of it by itself?

"Sure, prices need to go down. Bad debt needs to be eliminated. The taxpayer ought to be protected. Taxes ought to be lowered...We are following the same routine that we did in the Depression, and that is artificially try to keep prices up. People were starving in the Depression and the only thing they did was try to keep wages artificially high and keep food prices high. We are doing the same thing now—we are trying to keep housing prices high. Low prices for houses mean poor people could buy a house. This is the most important part of a free market economy and that is free market pricing. Without free market pricing, the market can't work. And this is in a way a major effort to price fix."

They can fight economic gravity as hard as they want. But in the end, the plane is eventually going to run out of fuel and the landing will be a lot harder as a result. I don't have much sympathy for a country who rejected the chance to have Ron Paul at the helm and favored the likes of McCain and Obama.

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