Just another Reality-based bubble in the foam of the multiverse.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Swat the Gadflies and Drain the Swamp

One from Eschaton:

A speech. Obama's right here. Race is a distraction, one of many, for everybody while the real bad guys make off with the money. Again.

And via Digby, a little indignation for those who'd much rather you talked about race vs. feminism vs. fightin' Terra as the deciding issues:

Never do I want to hear again from my conservative friends about how brilliant capitalists are, how much they deserve their seven-figure salaries and how government should keep its hands off the private economy.

The Wall Street titans have turned into a bunch of welfare clients. They are desperate to be bailed out by government from their own incompetence, and from the deregulatory regime for which they lobbied so hard. They have lost "confidence" in each other, you see, because none of these oh-so-wise captains of the universe have any idea what kinds of devalued securities sit in one another's portfolios.

So they have stopped investing. The biggest, most respected investment firms threaten to come crashing down. You can't have that. It's just fine to make it harder for the average Joe to file for bankruptcy, as did that wretched bankruptcy bill passed by Congress in 2005 at the request of the credit card industry. But the big guys are "too big to fail," because they could bring us all down with them.

Enter the federal government, the institution to which the wealthy are not supposed to pay capital gains or inheritance taxes. Good God, you don't expect these people to trade in their BMWs for Saturns, do you?

As the Faithful would say, Heaven forbid, especially when there's a nice source of capital offering to keep the Faithful of Bu$hie's ba$e in their BMWs for awhile longer:

...Mr. Paulson and the Fed chairman, Ben Bernanke, have been hounding financial companies to raise more equity. In the first round of write-downs, Citigroup, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley raised tens of billions of dollars from cash-rich foreign governments, including Abu Dhabi, China, Kuwait and South Korea.

It’s clear that the Bush administration and Mr. Bernanke would welcome greater ownership of the nation’s financial institutions by foreign governments. That’s an effective short-term fix, and could conveniently avert a financial meltdown on their watch. But it also means a long-term transfer of a chunk of the future revenues of the American financial system to foreign governments.

Many of those governments have complex, often tense, relationships with the United States, and many are secretive about their holdings, their objectives and the strategies by which their portfolios are managed. Among the most opaque are the funds of Dubai, Qatar, China, Abu Dhabi and Kuwait. Secrecy does not mean that the governments will necessarily be bad actors, but it is a big mistake to do such serious business with an opaque counterparty.

Yet the administration is encouraging more investments, no questions asked. Administration officials have tried — and failed to date — to get various government investors to agree even to voluntary transparency standards. Attempts to establish rules governing levels of ownership by foreign governments and reciprocity for American investors in other countries, essential to secure and fair dealing, have also gone nowhere.

This week several Wall Street firms will release their latest results, and they will probably be ugly. The drive to raise capital will very likely get more intense. So the Bush administration should work with Congress now to prepare the taxpayer-financed bailout that seems all but inevitable. If Washington stopped acting as if it had no role to play, it might seem less desperate to foreign investors, and Mr. Bush might have another chance to persuade them to provide more transparency.

The administration and federal regulators are largely to blame for getting the country in this mess by turning a blind eye to reckless lending and investing. They must not compound the error by turning a blind eye to what may be waiting just down the road.

But for whom? Halliburton has all those nice new towers in Dubai, where the wimmin keep their place for their explanted Houston masters. And where they'll continue to, until the Sheiks gain total mastery, and all that's left for Texas oilmen, and the Nation they sold into slavery, won't be the swamp.

It will be the burning desert sand.

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