Honestly, how long before the New York Times asks for TARP money? Ol’ Pinch Sulzberger will claim it’s morally wrong not to do it on behalf of shareholders (then again, shareholders have never been a major concern for the publishing scion).
I only ask the question to point to how incredibly wrong we’re going about this (by “this” I mean crisis management). Chris Cox notes in today’s Wall Street Journal op-ed that the creation of the SEC in 1934 “marked a deliberate effort to clearly define and separate the role of the national government, on the one hand, and the capital markets, on the other.” A concept about as quaint as having a glass of sarsaparilla around a wireless fireside chat. With deliberations now in Washington centering on just how far the government will go in running the country’s automobile business, it’s fair to say a slight Rubicon has been crossed.
Leszek Balcerowicz, Poland’s former finance minister has a great piece in today’s Financial Times arguing against the use of stimulus packages. Couldn’t agree more, but with due respect to Balcerowicz, that “statek” has sailed. Might have held sway eight months ago; today, not so much. Thankfully, not everyone agrees with my pessimistic take (what?). Bob Reynolds, who only recently took over at Putnam Investments, told me Monday that coordinated efforts by governments and central banks worldwide means we’re just about out of this thing. His reasoning? Bear markets over the past 60 years have lasted an average of 14 months. If, as the National Bureau of Economic Research claims, we’ve been officially in a recession for 12 months … well, do the math. For your boomer clients’ sake, who have to get on with the business of “re-accumulation” (shudder at the term), I hope he’s right and I’m horribly wrong.