Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Bailout Bewilderment

Rachel Maddow explains more on the double-standard of the bailouts and exposes the backroom shenanigans whereby Wall Street is stealing, in collusion with the Treasury, more of our money. Laura D'Andrea Tyson, in usual economic jargon, tries to placate Rachel's questions/concerns. It was the usual - don't worry, we've gotten everyone into this mess, we know the best way out, there should be some strings attached, but we must lend billions quickly without too many questions. Tyson learned all too well, during her time in the Clinton administration how to appease the bond traders.

Maddow follows up on her discussion with Laura D'Andrea Tyson (whom provided excuses for the firms involved and blamed the Treasury for the lack of transparency) the next day. As a professor she knows about ethics in disclosure and research. Her action would be similar to a journalist writing a glowing piece on Apple without disclosing that he/she has millions in that company's stock. The problem isn't that she didn't know enough to disclose the connection. The problem is that all the major players in our society have entanglements and connections, which rarely any of them reveal, nor are there legal repercussions for such indiscretions. This cronyism and opaqueness throughout the system are glaring factors in the culmination of the current crisis (and throughout our country's history of class warfare).

The Treasury assuredly deserves some blame. But when all we've heard for the last thirty years is, "leave he market alone" and "the market knows best," it's difficult not to fall back on those bad habits, give firms the money they claim they need, and believe they can straighten up the mess. It's especially hard when the characters running the Treasury and their advisers are former investment bankers, Wall-Streeters, and hedge fund managers.

The CEOs, managers, brokers, and their ilk should be stripped of a major percentage of their assets (which are ill-gotten gains) to help pay for their mess. The private jets should be sold and their options given to the Treasury (to cash-in when the companies stock prices increase). Salaries and bonuses, going back years, will be automatically turned over to the Treasury.

If this were Joe Sixpack caught in illegal activities swindling money in nefarious ways, he would, no doubt, be stripped of all of his assets and face jail time. Just for good behavioral economics sake, the fine should fit the crime. Removing even ninety percent of hedge fund managers, and the other bozos, wealth still leaves them with an absurd amount of wealth to operate from...when they get out of jail.

No comments: