UPDATE TWO: IT'S NOT OVER!
The headline's oscillate between proclamations of bailout success and dark forebodings--the visual representation of this is conveniently graphed for us on the stock indexes for the day. "See?" they taunt. "See how the market gets better when we say the bailout is at hand? See how it gets worse when word of your stonewalling gets out?"
We cannot let up on the Congress, and, frankly, at this point we should be calling our state representatives as well. We must accept the reality of this situation: This bailout has minimal impact on the American people; it is primarily about paying off foreign interests before the collapse, even if that process is to be heavily veiled and masked by transactions. The $700 billion dollars is nothing in the face of the problem at hand. It is enough to save a few prominent corporations, leaving them in position to sweep up the remnants at fire-sale prices.
The great rush to get this bailout through isn't about saving the markets. It's about sucking in as much capital as possible before the market collapses. As quickly as the Treasury writes the check, the recipient corporations will retrench and shift their money out of the U.S. Dollar. Foreign funds will buy stock rapidly, in companies that hold solid assets, because they need to buy something fast with those dollars.
It is the collapse of the derivitives market that looms, trillions of dollars in "credit default swaps" (62 trillion in the Unites States alone, according to the International Swaps and Derivatives Association), basically insurance bonds against losses in other credit instruments, bundled and sold over and over again, like some kind of world-wide Ponzi scheme. It's not just the taxpayers holding the bag here; it is mutual funds and pension plans and savers from here and other nations who are all about to get flattened. So far, every time the true market price of these bonds rears its ugly head, it is pennies on the dollar, and this unveiling is what they have been fighting off since Bear Sterns.
The great lie is that this bail out will 'unclog' the credit pipes--as if other people are sitting around with trillions of dollars ready to buy out junk bonds at above-market prices. This is an almost laughable theory being presented to the people of the United States. "If we buy $700,000,000,000 of these bad, severely overvalued bonds at above-market prices, then others will buy the remaining $61.3 trillion of bad, severely overvalued bonds at above market-prices." Right. Come on, kids..Follow the piper down to the river...
But this isn't the dialogue that is happening in the public forum (yeah, I use that loosely). President Bush all but confessed that the sins of the world market seizure are borne by the USA, though he makes it sound like an unforeseen consequence, like all gamblers do when the pot goes the other way. And he did a great job of redirecting attention towards mortgages as the entirety of the problem, instead of merely the first crack in a dam made of cheap clay. What he cannot say is this: "It is the derivatives market that has created hundreds of trillions in false wealth, and it is this market that is imploding. We are entering a severe recession that will result in the collapse and restructuring of the economy in ways you cannot imagine, though many people have imagined it and you probably should have listened more. As far as the bailout, if you knew what we know, you'd be looting, too..."
President Bush met with McCain and Senator Obama. This isn't about negotiating the bailout; this is about negotiating with the voters. I wish it was different on either front. By the way, President Bush, if you ever wanted to have your Anakin Skywalker moment, veto the bill no matter what and tell people what's really going on. Your father would become a footnote...
There is not enough money in the world to circumvent a massive correction in the market. Literally. That's the problem. There is not a lot of money, actual wealth, at all. There are just a lot of people saying they have money. They hold up a bond that's worth six cents and declare, "This is worth a dollar." You think it is a damnable offense that some family lies on a mortgage application, exaggerating assets, to get a loan? Corporations like Lehman, Fannie and Freddie, AIG, and the whole line up yet to come all did this to the tune of hundreds of billions. But with every default, more of these toxic bonds get found out. You see, the corporations aren't really losing money; they are just being forced to reveal that they didn't have the money in the first place. This is why "the credit" has come to a standstill. That is the usual consequence of lying to your creditors...
Your friends and family must understand these things and take action. We need whatever flimsy credit we have left to help our fellow taxpayers when misfortune lands upon them above and beyond the sum of their choices. That's why we pool our money, that's why we hire these people to manage the People's operations. We, as a nation, need to seriously review our hiring practices...
Keep calling your Senator, your representatives, your Governor, your mayor. Hammer them with this message: You've bailed out enough. Near a trillion dollars already. We will reinstate the value of the dollar by working our way out of this mess, as a people who all seek the same liberty, regardless of how we often differ in the application of that liberty. We will not bail you out, and if the fall of these corporations results in the bought-and-sold members of Congress and members of the administration losing their revenue streams, so be it. Maybe, if there is no damn money to be made in D.C., we can get some people in there who actually want to fulfill their oaths.
Listen to what Bush said and shake your head free of the patter of hyperbole. You already can't get credit, and frankly you shouldn't go anymore into debt anyway. You already can't find a good job, or at least a job that feels like you contributed something at the end of the day. You already are paying escalating prices for everything, and this new addition of debt will dilute the dollar further, and you will pay more--inflation is simply a form of taxation. It's called monetizing the debt. Either way, we lose. We can't convert our paychecks overnight into Swiss Francs. We won't know when to sell that gold we hoarded, and then it will be confiscated. And we, unlike the rest of the world, have no savings.
So, let's just get on with it, then. Bring the damn crisis. Bring your financial shock and awe. We'll show you what we got. We'll show you that for all of your divisiveness, we are not a mass of ignorant people incapable of adaptation, courage, unity and faith. Get on with it already. Get on with your master plan so we can plan for our tomorrow.
Yeah, history does repeat itself, and at the end, the empire always loses. It loses because people who require such obscene advantage in life in order to secure success are weak, and they build weak structures, in such a hurry to reach the heavens. But we are more than commerce, or a marketplace.