There is simply no way to avoid facing the reality of what Republicans and the Bush Administration have done and are attempting to continue to do to the American people. If Pelosi and other Democrats comply with the transparently predatory and destructive financial legerdemain of Bernanke, Paulson and the Bush Administration, they not only deserve the open contempt of the American people, but should never again be trusted to serve America’s best interests.
We have effective, nondestructive ways of dealing with the current crisis. The market is already moving to deal with many of these problems, although not to the benefit of the officers of some of the more prominent companies.
The Federal government should be seeking ways to minimize its involvement while simultaneously developing ways to maximize the damage done to the economy and the interests of ordinary Americans.
The government should be seeking ways to move incrementally and judiciously.
The following letter, which I found on the website, http://www.crooksandliars.com, was sent to Congress and signed by 192 economists on the faculties of universities across the country. Not only are ordinary Americans outraged by the egregious behavior of our government, the condemnation appears to be virtually universal. It is difficult to imagine that the opinion of the American people and much of the rest of the world regarding the U.S. Government could sink much lower, but if they persist on the craven, self-serving agenda outlined in Paulson’s Bailout, it will doubtlessly do so.
The policies outlined in the following letter are not only a course leading out of the current crisis, but they offer a means to salvage some shred of credibility for the current Congress. I don’t believe anything can be done for the Bush Administration. Its vices and malignant, anti-democratic policies will take their inevitable toll.
To the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President pro tempore of the Senate:
As economists, we want to express to Congress our great concern for the plan proposed by Treasury Secretary Paulson to deal with the financial crisis. We are well aware of the difficulty of the current financial situation and we agree with the need for bold action to ensure that the financial system continues to function. We see three fatal pitfalls in the currently proposed plan:
1) Its fairness. The plan is a subsidy to investors at taxpayers’ expense. Investors who took risks to earn profits must also bear the losses. Not every business failure carries systemic risk. The government can ensure a well-functioning financial industry, able to make new loans to creditworthy borrowers, without bailing out particular investors and institutions whose choices proved unwise.
2) Its ambiguity. Neither the mission of the new agency nor its oversight are clear. If taxpayers are to buy illiquid and opaque assets from troubled sellers, the terms, occasions, and methods of such purchases must be crystal clear ahead of time and carefully monitored afterwards.
3) Its long-term effects. If the plan is enacted, its effects will be with us for a generation. For all their recent troubles, America's dynamic and innovative private capital markets have brought the nation unparalleled prosperity. Fundamentally weakening those markets in order to calm short-run disruptions is desperately short-sighted.
For these reasons we ask Congress not to rush, to hold appropriate hearings, and to carefully consider the right course of action, and to wisely determine the future of the financial industry and the U.S. economy for years to come.
Signed (updated at 9/25/2008 8:30AM CT)
Acemoglu Daron (Massachussets Institute of Technology)
Adler Michael (Columbia University)
Admati Anat R. (Stanford University)
Alexis Marcus (Northwestern University)
Alvarez Fernando (University of Chicago)
Andersen Torben (Northwestern University)
Baliga Sandeep (Northwestern University)
Banerjee Abhijit V. (Massachussets Institute of Technology)
Barankay Iwan (University of Pennsylvania)
Barry Brian (University of Chicago)
Bartkus James R. (Xavier University of Louisiana)
Becker Charles M. (Duke University)
Becker Robert A. (Indiana University)
Beim David (Columbia University)
Berk Jonathan (Stanford University)
Bisin Alberto (New York University)
Bittlingmayer George (University of Kansas)
Boldrin Michele (Washington University)
Brooks Taggert J. (University of Wisconsin)
Brynjolfsson Erik (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)