Breaking: Bail out / fail out [UPDATED and UPDATED AGAIN]
From Hot Air:
The final tally was 207-226, with Democrats supporting it 141-94, while Republicans opposed it 66-132.
How did the markets react? Initially, with panic. Dow dropped from around a -290 to more like a -660, but then recovered within minutes to a -400. Within a few minutes after that, it rose a little further to about -360, a 300-point gain, but it continued to go up and down, and probably will all day long.
What does this mean? The Senate can always initiate their own version of the plan and re-send it to the House, but that will take some doing. Can Republicans change their votes after taking this kind of stand?
If it stands, it will be a repudiation of the leadership in both House caucuses and the Bush administration. Pelosi couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t hold her caucus together, and Boehner, Cantor, Blunt, and Putnam will find themselves in the minority of theirs.
Maybe now panic will really set in, and a fiscally-responsible attempt to clean up the mess can be put together.
Or not. In which case, I might need a refrigerator box or two.
update: Did Pelosi intentionally sabotage the vote so that the media, already in the bag for Obama, would have cover to blame the Republicans for the bill’s failure?
And if so, is there any more transparent ploy to put power over the welfare of the country — if in fact the Democrats truly believe that we need this bail out?
Congress has a 10% approval rate. Time for the McCain camp and the rest of the GOP to put out ads that lambaste the Dems for their craven ploys. Otherwise, we may as well kiss classical liberalism goodbye.
Here she is. Enjoy! And don’t be too hard on the old bint: it ain’t like she’s gonna suffer, so why not help the media in their partisan push to decide the election? And remember: one minute can be sixteen minutes when the greater good is involved…
(thanks to sdferr)
update 2: Did Pelosi actually help the country, however unintentionally?
John Berlau, American Spectator:
“The government has to do something to keep markets from falling and the economy from getting worse.” How many times have you heard that mantra this past week from President Bush, Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, Democrat leaders, the news media, and even some ostensibly conservative periodicals?
But what if the bailout, as originally proposed and in its latest incarnation [.pdf available at link], would spend $700 billion of taxpayers’ money and actually make the economy worse? Believe it or not, there is good evidence this may happen. The inflationary prospects of the bailout price tag may lead to spikes in oil and crop prices that could hit ordinary Americans in their cars and on their kitchen tables. And government purchases of financial assets could ironically further constrain credit through causing write-downs on even the balance sheets of financial firms not participating in the bailout by worsening the effects of mark-to-market accounting rules.
All last week, the stock market’s plunging downward was pointed to as a sign that Washington must step up to the plate — as quickly as possible. Yet ironically last Friday — the day after the bailout talks broke down at the wild White House meeting with the presidential candidates — the Dow Jones industrial average actually went up by 120 points! This doesn’t mean that the market is opposed to the bailout, but it does show that the market volatility is probably as much due to the potential effects of a bailout as it is to a lack of one.
One of the things the market seems to fear about a bailout is inflation due to the staggering price tag. Even if the government recoups some of its purchases when the market stabilizes, as bailout proponents argue, the spending outlays will be done immediately, requiring a huge increase in the debt limit that’s in the current plan. The market expects (probably rightly) that the government will monetize much of the new debt through a looser monetary policy.
So a substantial indirect effect of the bailout will be higher prices for food and gasoline, and this will probably hit ordinary households sooner than many politicians expect. When speculators expect the dollar to fall or be volatile, they immediately try to hedge an unstable currency through buying commodity futures. Thus, last week saw a big spike in oil prices, which had been steadily declining over the last few months. Other commodities, notably gold, also shot up. Corn and wheat prices, already boosted because of ethanol mandates, will also likely shoot up in response to a falling dollar. [...]
On top of this inflation, the bill might even worsen the very credit contraction it is trying to stop. This is because of its effects on financial firms that have to follow mark-to-market accounting rules. As I wrote earlier this month in the Wall Street Journal, the credit “contagion” has been spread in large part by these rules, adopted by the Securities and Exchange Commission and bank regulators in the last few years, and subject to a big expansion last November with Financial Accounting Standard 157.
Because the mark-to-market rules require writedowns of even performing loans based on the last sale of similar assets, good banks holding mortgages that haven’t been impaired often have to adjust their books based on another bank’s sale — even if they plan to hold their loans to maturity. And because the rules are tied to solvency requirements from the government’s bank regulators, banks lose “regulatory capital,” even if the loss is only on paper. Thus, in the scramble to conserve capital, financial firms have less money to lend.
But the bailout — in addition to putting taxpayers on the hook and massively increasing government’s role in the economy — would likely make mark-to-market and hence the credit crisis worse, according to experts who have reviewed Paulson’s plan. Paulson proposes a “reverse auction” approach by which government would choose a selling price to buy a financial firm’s mortgage-backed securities. But unless mark-to-market rules were changed, this sale would force other firms to write down their assets to this price, which could further constrain the amount of money they can lend.
An Associated Press story paraphrases American Enterprise Institute scholar Vincent Reinhart, a former Federal Reserve monetary affairs director, as saying that “if the auctions set too low a price for mortgage-related assets, other institutions with bad debt may be forced to take the distressed valuation onto their books under mark-to-market accounting rules.” Similarly a Washington Post story by financial reporter Neil Irwin says that the purchase could force more regional banks to write their assets down. Thus, regional banks as well as big banks will be subject to credit constraints.
As of today, some accounts say the bills will include authority for the SEC to suspend mark-to-market. But the SEC and the banking agencies already have the authority to suspend it and use any accounting rules they wish. Since they have been resistant to doing so thus far, even in the midst of this crisis, putting in what amounts to at best Congressional “wishes” will likely not move these agencies. The only way Congress could make a meaningful change would be to require this suspension of rules, and lawmakers do not seem willing to do that yet.