Wednesday, January 14, 2009

At Least We Have a TARP Over Our Heads

Washington Post columnist Steven Pearlstein says the financial sector bailout recapitalization (et cetera) has been a qualified success:
There's been a lot of grousing lately about the Treasury's $700 billion bailout program, which, according to its many critics, has accomplished nothing other than line the pockets of undeserving bankers and their shareholders.

Maybe I'm missing something, but I don't see how it's possible to rescue the banking system without rescuing banks. That's not because anyone thought banks or bankers were particularly deserving of public charity or even sympathy -- clearly they weren't. But by last summer, with investors, lenders and depositors running for the exits, there was a genuine fear that the banking system could collapse and bring the whole global economy down with it. To prevent that outcome, the Treasury asked for $700 billion that it could use not only to mount rescues of individual institutions, but also to try to get ahead of the crisis by taking proactive steps to shore up the financial system.

Sure, you can question how the money was used -- many of us have -- but you can't quarrel with the fact that a financial meltdown has been avoided as a direct result of the government's extraordinary interventions...
Indeed, Calculated Risk finds that some measures of credit market stress have improved considerably.

But, the Times reports, more will be needed...

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