Wednesday, November 12, 2008

"Shifty" Paulson

The news today is reporting that Treasury Secretary Paulson is changing the way that the $700B bailout money is going to be spent. He has already done this once in a big way when he used his first $250B to buy preferred shares in banks rather than to accumulate troubled mortgages. In fact, I can't recall the man ever saying the same thing twice, so today's change of plans is hardly news and should have been anticipated. Today he is shifting away from mortgages entirely and hopes to direct the rest of the bailout money to credit cards, student loans, and other areas where the financial industry has been taking loses.

To my knowledge, the Treasury Department has not acquired a single troubled mortgage, which was the original intent of the bill. Banks are now starting to modify mortgages as they would under a free market without any government assistance, on the principle that getting less money from a loan modification is better than getting even lesser money from a foreclosure, in the setting of declining house values.

Actually, recalling my review of the legislation there was hardly a mention of mortgages, so the program is going as written, if perhaps not as advertised.

ADDENDUM [2/7/09]: For a nice review of bailout history and a blistering commentary on Paulson check this out.


East.Bay.Miser said...


FoxBusiness Network has just announced they filed a Freedom of Information request with the Treasury Department demanding transparency in the TARP adminstration. They want public, where the bailout money is coming from, who's receiving it, and what collateral there is. If this request isn't honored and nobody expects it to be, then FBN will file a federal lawsuit in 18 days. The government claims it's policy of secrecy is to prevent public anxiety about which banks are being propped up and which are being ignored. While some of that is true, there's a lot of CYA going on. Can't let the public know were helping our friends first or our biggest campaign contributors first.

SF Mechanist said...

The really crazy part is they are saying this is to help ordinary people rather than Wall Steet, as if more credit card debt would solve everything.