Only Some of Us Are Celebrating Today
Via Angry Bear, here’s Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel prize-winning economist, on Treasury Sec. Henry Paulson Jr. celebrating the bailout plan he presented to Congress, which was revised in marathon negotiations this weekend:
The champagne bottle corks were popping as Treasury Sec. Henry Paulson announced his trillion-dollar bailout for the banks, buying up their toxic mortgages. To a skeptic, Paulson’s proposal looks like another of those shell games that Wall Street has honed to a fine art. Wall Street has always made money by slicing, dicing and recombining risk. This “cure” is another one of these rearrangements: somehow, by stripping out the bad assets from the banks and paying fair market value for them, the value of the banks will soar.
There is, however, an alternative explanation for Wall Street’s celebration: the banks realized that they were about to get a free ride at taxpayers’ expense. No private firm was willing to buy these toxic mortgages at what the seller thought was a reasonable price; they finally had found a sucker who would take them off their hands–called the American taxpayer.
Just a reminder of how Wall Street views a proposed bailout that has left many Americans frustrated and angry.