Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Bailing Out Of This Government Bailout

It is hard to believe that the United States Congress has given the Treasury Secretary control over trillions dollars of taxpayer money without any current oversight.

Henry Paulson controls assets equal to the 19th largest global economy and he is not even an elected official.

Of course when the Treasury Asset Relief Program (TARP) was passed, oversight that taxpayer's money would be spent wisely was a Congressional assurance given to a skeptical public.

So is the money being spent wisely? Nobody really knows, but Bloomberg News is at least trying to find out. They have requested details of Federal Reserve lending under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act and filed a federal lawsuit on Nov. 7 seeking to force disclosure. Give Bloomberg News credit, they are doing actual journalism in the real world.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the rest of the media. MSNBC, is currently running promos that say: "Barack Obama, America's 44th president. Watch as a leader renews America's promise." People Magazine 's Cover "The Obamas' New Life!" will not win any Pulitzer for investigative journalism either. U.S. Weekly goes with a new Obama quote for its latest edition: "I Think I'm a Pretty Cool Dad." Meanwhile, the Chicago Tribune opines that Michelle Obama "is poised to be the new Oprah and the next Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis combined!" for the fashion world.

So, 350 billion of taxpayer's money has already been spent and nobody knows where it went and only Bloomberg News really cares enough to find out under the Freedom Of Information Act. The New York Post calls all the current Presidential media hype and attention, "BamALot" and if it continues, it is going to cost the average American taxpayer "QuiteALot".

Now, consider that the need for the remainder of the bailout bill was brought into question last week. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson changed direction on the need for the money. He announced that the government would not use any of the $700 billion to buy toxic mortgages and other bad assets from banks. That had been the centerpiece of the bailout plan when Paulson and Bernanke first pitched it to lawmakers two months ago.

Meanwhile, CNBC, has been keeping a running tally of the total amount of spending the federal government is doing due to this financial crisis as well as all its other bail out commitments. The amount as of November 13, 2008 is reported to be $4.28 trillion dollars. About sixty eight percent of the sum falls under the Federal Reserve's umbrella, while the another 16 percent is under TARP, as defined under the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act, signed into law in early October.

As a result of the lack of transparency and the staggering dollar amount, Senators, James Imhofe and Bernie Sanders, now plan to introduced legislation to bailout Congress from the 350 billion dollars that remains to be spent on TARP.

The truth is that the entire regulatory regime of the US financial community will require the largest overhaul since the Great Depression. Many regulations that have been repealed need to be put back into place.

However, since so many new financial instruments have been developed, the whole system is in need of review. This should include the Fed, Treasury, SEC, FDIC, the GSEs, and the governmental housing agencies (GNMA, the FHA).

In the meantime, bailing the taxpayer out of this government bailout has become a priority for everyone before all the money is gone and nobody knows what happened, except for a few insiders in the beltway in Washington, D.C.

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