Confused? (OR Explanations, in English)

September 19, 2008

OK, as this financial mess getting worse and worse I thought it would be helpful to link to a couple things that might help explain what the hell happened, and why we’re so screwed.

First: a comic. Trust me.

Next: A couple interviews on Fresh Air with Michael Greenberger. Both are linked from that page. Or, you can find them here (April 3, 2008) and here (September 17, 2008).

They’re all a bit long, but well worth the time. Think of it as your weekend homework…  or something.

Solution (OR A way out)

September 18, 2008

Robert Reich is kind enough to propose a solution to the current fiasco in the financial markets. Not being an economist, by any stretch, I don’t know what to make of it. But, I generally trust Reich’s perspective, and it’s reassuring to know that someone out there sees a way out:

A better idea would be for the Fed and Treasury to organize a giant workout of Wall Street — essentially, a reorganization under bankruptcy, for whatever firms wanted to join in. Equity would be eliminated, along with most preferred stock, creditors would be paid off to the extent possible. And then the participants would start over with clean balance sheets that reflected new, agreed-upon rules for full disclosure, along with minimum capitalization. Everyone would know where they stood. Bad debts would be eliminated. Taxpayers wouldn’t get left holding the bag. And there would be no “moral hazard” incentive for future financial wizards to take giant risks with other taxpayers’ money.

The only way Wall Street’s meltdown doesn’t spill over to Main Street is if policymakers begin to pay adequate attention to the people whose wallets really keep the economy going, and who merit more help than the Wall Street tycoons whose carelessness and negligence have put it in such jeopardy.