Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Flipping the Banks

I'm going to follow a good example and bring everyone up to date on what I am attempting to stay up to date with.

I guess we are all news junkies now. At least until we pass out over our monitors or radios from fatigue and despair. It seems like Something Really Important is probably happening every day, and it is probably something that will need to be explained. These are the sites that have helped me cope.

Planet Money: This podcast is from the crew that does those amazing This American Life episodes about the financial crisis. If you listen through them, you will pretty much understand what is going on.

The Baseline Scenario: This blog, written by a former Chief Economist for the International Monetary Fund and a partner, takes it to the next level. It is extremely dry, which makes some of its gloomier predictions a bit more palatable. They do however, lay out the only sensible solution I have heard so far. One that strips away all the BS, admits how bad things actually are, then proceeds with step by step instructions so clear and commonsensical they are easily understood by even us schmoes. Spoiler Alert: It involves government involvement in banks, which is gong to make some people howl, even as we take a step further each day down that road. OH MY GOD THEY ARE NATIONALIZING THE BANKS! JACKBOOTS IN THE STREETS! BUSHY MUSTACHES! BIG FUR HATS! BIGGER, FURRIER WOMEN!

No. I am going to try and coin a phrase here that I hope will let us all relax a little and talk constructively about what needs to be done. This plan, as laid out by Simon Johnson, is not what I would call Nationalizing the Banks. It involves what I will call Flipping the Banks. The government goes in, takes over a worthless entity. Yes, worthless, look at their stock prices after all the government guarantees so far...the market is very good at pricing and the market has spoken. (It kills me when I hear "nobody knows what these assets are worth...." Yes they do, everyone knows...they are worth exactly Jack Shit. Most of the loans in those assets are probably good, but they've been chopped up and thrown in the pot with worthless loans that will never be repaid.

How much would a Kobe Beef Steak Sandwich cost?

Now how much would it cost if it was 97% Kobe Beef and 3% Human Feces?

We know how much they are worth.

Anywhooo, so the government goes in, takes over ("buys") the worthless entity, kicks out the frat boys who have run the property into the ground, fixes the holes in the drywall, throws on a layer of paint, hauls all the garbage out of the backyard, then sells it back to the private sector, at a profit if possible. Suddenly Uncle Sam is no longer Stalin in a red, white and blue top hat, but an OCD Gay Dude with Semi Competent Help, One Eye on the Balance Sheet and the Other Scanning for Buyers.

I'm just sayin'...

An Apple TV has made it into my life as cable makes its way out, and I couldn't be happier. I have some stuff to learn about how to use the damn thing. That "Easy Apple Experience" has never been so easy for me. I've been watching some video podcasts, including

GPS: This CNN show with Fareed Zakaria is new to me and really impressive. It's the Charlie Rose guests without the 900lb Hangover in the room.

That's all the news stuff. The other half are geek/tech stuff, I'll save those.

1 comment:

  1. The Bad Bank podcast was one of the best things I have heard in a long time. Amazing how quickly I reached my own opinion on what we need to do.
    Maybe Bravo could turn it into a reality show - it may make it easier for the American Public to swallow. And Bravo makes everything look better and seem more entertaining...Even mustaches and bigger, furrier women.