Calling the president “George W. Obama,” Margaret Carlson says the administration likes those who shower before work over those who shower afterwards.
With the announcement this week that Chrysler LLC and General Motors Corp. would be on 30- and 60-day timetables to fix themselves or risk bankruptcy, it was clearer than ever that the financial industry holds much more sway in the halls of power than do grease monkeys, even ones cleaned up at Harvard.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, unlike Henry Paulson, doesn’t hail from Wall Street, but he’s one more example of how titans of government swiftly come to sympathize with titans of finance. They slip in and out of each other’s worlds, promote each other to the top, and mystify their work to convince the uninitiated that no one else can do it.
They easily have their way with compromised regulators ready to look the other way as a small sliver of the population plays high-risk poker with other people’s money. This sliver then has its way again unwinding the damage caused. Huge sums are pocketed on both ends.
And what is really made from these transactions? What is created that benefits society?
This decision also shows Washington’s preference for those profiting from things you can’t see in which large sums of money pass through multiple hands, over those you can see.
…When GM goes into bankruptcy, as seems inevitable, and the relics of the dealer network are separated by hundreds of miles and we are all driving Kias, will coddling the bankers to the detriment of autos seem so wise? Detroit put the country on wheels, bankers put it on the skids, but the latter need never worry again about what will happen when they go too far. They know the music slows but never stops on Wall Street.
Which is the key point. Someone please tell me how the Geithner banking bailout plan ensures the financial industry won’t do it again with some new financial instrument with which they play Russian roulette and lodge the bullet in the taxpayers brain? Nothing I’ve seen so far ensures it won’t happen again. New regulations are nice, whenever the administration gets around to detailing them, but so far the financial industry is getting a sweetheart deal.
The government plan in effect involves insuring almost all losses. Since the private investors are spared most losses, then they primarily “value” their potential gains. This is exactly the same as being given an option.
Consider an asset that has a 50-50 chance of being worth either zero or $200 in a year’s time. The average “value” of the asset is $100. Ignoring interest, this is what the asset would sell for in a competitive market. It is what the asset is “worth.” Under the plan by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, the government would provide about 92 percent of the money to buy the asset but would stand to receive only 50 percent of any gains, and would absorb almost all of the losses. Some partnership!
Assume that one of the public-private partnerships the Treasury has promised to create is willing to pay $150 for the asset. That’s 50 percent more than its true value, and the bank is more than happy to sell. So the private partner puts up $12, and the government supplies the rest — $12 in “equity” plus $126 in the form of a guaranteed loan.
If, in a year’s time, it turns out that the true value of the asset is zero, the private partner loses the $12, and the government loses $138. If the true value is $200, the government and the private partner split the $74 that’s left over after paying back the $126 loan. In that rosy scenario, the private partner more than triples his $12 investment. But the taxpayer, having risked $138, gains a mere $37.
We can only hope you can buy a Kia for $37.