Friday, September 26, 2008

Wanted: Another Franklin Roosevelt

By Michael Winship
September 26, 2008

We thirst for leadership, vision, someone who can speak to us in a way that refuses to avert its eyes from the crisis but shines a light of truth upon the problem, then offers hope and possible solutions.

Read on.

3 comments:

photon's feather said...

Is our new Roosevelt a Swede? Just joking there - but the New York Times recently published an article that reminded everyone that Sweden faced this very problem and devised a successful solution - 16 years ago.

It included forcing the miscreants who had made all the money to suffer real pain, (not some unspecified cap on future 'earnings'), and imposing strong regulations on the market with strict oversight.

Another important aspect of the plan was that, after writing down significant losses, financial institutions had to issue warrants to the government for financial help received. No bailouts. Equity for cash.

In short, the government took a hard-nosed approach and kept their eyes on ensuring fairness and protecting the entire nation, not just the financial markets; and they did it with no public hysterics or squabbling and no media circus.

The plan was announced, the markets began recovering as soon as information of the details was widely-enough disseminated, the public was generally satisfied that they were not being asked to carry the entire burden of others' recklessness and misdeeds, and Sweden made a relatively quick recovery.

Compare that with what is currently happening in the U.S. Bush is insisting that the financial sky is in imminent jeopardy of falling. Much of Washington is in a frenzy. Nobody is willing to force the real culprits to give up any of their ill-gotten treasure. Growing numbers of Americans are enraged by the prospect that they will be royally swindled. Those that are not enraged are increasingly fearful and are withdrawing their money from money market accounts, thus worsening an already-tight money supply. International banks are dubious, as are the international markets. (After all, the plan did originate in the White House, and the entire world has learned to fear anything this administration dreams up.) Finally, China is talking about turning off the spigot - (or they were as of just a day or two ago) - so the source of the $700 billion is a huge, answered question.

If Washington is intent on spending money, why don't they even want to look at a 16-years-tried-and-proven plan? What effects - positive or negative - could not be aparent after all that time?

No, it would appear that the entire Bush administration are all Herman Wouk fans, and have decided to embrace the motto "When in danger or in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout" [The Caine Mutiny] - or at least they've been very good at persuading Congress and the rest of the country to adopt that motto. This is what George Bush does best: use a real (or invented/imaginary) crisis to start urgently - and publicly -insisting that Congress must act now - right now! - to embrace his plan (that he just happened to have ready and waiting) and save us all from the latest big, bad monster discovered to be lurking in the dark. Well, increasing numbers of Americans seem to be waking up to the fact that there is only one big, bad monster - and it currently resides (part-time) at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

End note: According to Dougherty, the final cost to Sweden is estimated at less than 2% of their GDP, as compared with nearly 5% of our GDP ($7 billion) that the Bush administration wants - with no guarantee that there will not be the need for more later.

Throwing money at a problem: a Democratic failing?

"Solving a Financial Crisis, the Swedish Way" by Carter Dougherty

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/23/business/world business/23krona.html

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