Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Bailout Testimony

Chairman Bernanke’s testimony today was astounding to me for two reasons. First, he stated that by using public funds to purchase toxic assets from financial institutions we would gain a better understanding of the hold-to-maturity prices of these assets. In effect, he is saying that the market doesn’t work and only government intervention will provide a price discovery mechanism. I take exception to this conclusion because it is based on internally flawed logic. Creating a market with public funds does not provide price discovery, it provides a new market that is not based on “market” prices at all. Rather it is based on availability of funds from taxpayers and it is ripe for abuse.

Second, Mr. Bernanke said that punitive measures should not be used against institutions that participate in sales to the government because it would limit participation. The only reason this could be true is that the government will not allow these institutions to fail so, rather than participating in this plan financial institutions could blackmail taxpayers for another rescue plan. If the government made it clear that they either participate or fail they would participate. I, for one, am tired of being held hostage by financial institutions.

Treasury Secretary Paulson addressed the lack of oversight provisions in his bailout proposal by explaining that he did not intend there be no oversight in his proposed plan. Rather, he felt it should be up to Congress to figure out how to monitor this program. I figured that to be the case, but I have an exception to this. If the oversight was to be determined by Congress, then why put the following provision into the proposal?:

Sec. 8. Review.
Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.

Finally, I ask again, where is the presentation?!? All I am hearing is “this is my opinion as Fed Chairman” and as Treasury Secretary. Taxpayers deserve better than this.

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