Risk Rap

Rapping About a World at Risk

Paulson’s Beer Hall Putsch

Drawing by Georg Grosz

On the night John Kerry ceded the election to Bush’s second term, I can still see W smirking while his smiling brain, Karl Rove looked on with smug satisfaction. Opined Bush, “I earned some political capital and I’m gonna spend it.” Spend it he did and his administration has nearly bankrupted the trust, treasure and security of this country.

As the United States limps to the blessed close of 8 years of the Bush Administration and the rule of a party that professes a disdain for government while demonstrating a striking ineptitude for governance; American’s are left holding a massive bag of bad debts reaping the painful yields of much squandered political and economic capital.

The regime that has refused to govern has left the door unguarded. Making it possible for a clique of collective interests that has the will, intelligence, verisimilitude and motive to take the reigns of state and to guide it in a dire hour of need.

Paulson’s bank bailout might just be a bloodless putsch of financial elites led by an alumni of investment and merchant bankers and their well placed confederates. The monied interests who have enriched themselves by gorging at the public troughs creating unfathomable pools of wealth for themselves are now trying to seize the country as their grandest prize. To be sure they remain hungry for returns, crave capital preservation and see the crisis as a great investment play to enlarge their riches. They smell the stench from the stinking corpse of the US banking system and are looking to claim the opportunity of a lifetime. They will go to great lengths to achieve their objectives. They are ready to employ economic blackmail to extort a massive tribute from multiple generations of US taxpayers to finance a takeover of the banking system.

This is the triumph of state capitalism. It is a similar model utilized by China, the EU, OPEC and other countries practicing the fine art of a state managed economy. This is not socialism. If this where socialism, all American’s would be receiving stock certificates and purchase warrants in the companies the Treasury is looking to finance. That is not in the cards. China is managed by a class of technocrats embedded in a centralized political party. America will now be ruled by a class of managers employed by Americas financial services whose sole goal is to maximize shareholder returns.

Is this a grand fleecing of America? The powerful and well placed are raiding the public treasury to fix past mistakes of their making and to bankroll their next bold move. When the state assets of the former Soviet Union were privatized, a class of oligarch’s arose out of the depths of the CCCP to seize control of them. The bank bailout is an event that bears similar characteristics. In Russia the private sector took control of state assets expropriating state ownership. Our bank rescue plan will provide US Treasury assets to the private sector so they can recapitalize and buy distressed bank assets on the cheap. No doubt sometime in the future, these privateers will be lauded by our elected officials as capital market heroes who single handedly rescued America by rationalizing the banking system.

Under normal circumstances the public trust would be secured by the social compact we have entered into with our Federal Government. Tragically, our three branches of government have all failed in their fiduciary duty to protect and serve the interests of American citizens. Special interests, ideologies, privilege and the rights of the stronger has trumped and crushed the will and interest of “We the People.” We are a representative democracy; republicans all, who believe in the democratic ideal who freely give our informed consent to be governed in exchange for the protection of public interest. This trust has been grievously violated. Our consent needs to be revoked.

Chris Dodd the Senator from Connecticut emerged from a weekend meeting with his head shaking. Said Dodd on the need to bail out the banks, “they painted a picture that was absolutely frightening and devastating for America. We must do this deal.”

The monied interests are holding the promise of America hostage. They say if we don’t comply with their demands, we will not be able to send our children to school, our retirement system and social security program will collapse, interest rates will go to double digits causing a cascade of mortgage defaults and bank failures. There will be anarchy in the streets. Sovereign Wealth Funds and other well heeled global investors will liquidate their holdings in US Treasuries and place the Federal Government in default. We’ll be no better then a banana republic.

It all looks very suspicious. Hank Paulson fully in control at the US Treasury making major moves to drastically alter our nations books and ledgers. Robert Rubin, former GS Chair and current well placed executive at Citicorp is now seen escorting Barack Obama no doubt offering real time sage advice. Jon Corzine, Mike Bloomberg and Governor Paterson are all bewailing the pending doom state and city budgets will suffer. State governments all over the country are growing more concerned each day as tax revenues fall, expenditures increase and the angst of American’s grow.

I’m having a hard time with this one. If its only about writing that $1 Trillion check to acquire a bunch of worthless assets I’m down with it. It’s only funny money anyway. Whats another $1T on a Federal debt of $11T. But this rescue plan serves a special interest more then it serves the general good of the common polity. As Alexander Hamilton taught us, debtor nations cede political liberty. It is unconscionable to saddle our country with this debt burden. Doing this deal will bind future generations to cover an obligation that condemns them to a life of indentured servitude.

This is not the way of free people. There is a better way.

Music: Bertolt Brecht’s Alabama Song Performed by The Doors

Risk: Democracy, Federalism, Free Markets, Debt, managed economy, state capitalism

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September 23, 2008 Posted by | Bush, credit crisis, Paulson, politics, rock, TARP | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

SME TBTF

SMEs are too big to fail (TBTF)

During last weeks Senate Banking Committee meeting with Bernanke and the Treasury Under Secretary, Chairman Dodd made an interesting almost off hand comment on the Feds move to pump liquidity into the credit markets. To paraphrase Dodd, he observed that the liquidity being pumped into the markets is going to prop up the capital ratios and balance sheets of banks. Its not like its going to small businesses.”

He said it. Or something along those lines.

Give us credit (pardon the pun), we are astute enough to know that if bank’s have a strong balance sheet they will be in a position to provide credit and other funding products to small and mid-size businesses (SME). But Chairman Dodd raises a sore subject that will certainly command much more attention as the banking crisis continues to play itself out.

Little has been said about the impact of the crisis on SME’s. But if you measure the extent of SMEs contribution to the nations economic development, job and wealth creation and as a principal source of tax revenue the needs of SMEs must be a central tenet of any proposed recovery strategy.

As the banking sector realigns and reconfigures this is a great opportunity for community banks to fill this pressing need.

Risk: SME, Banking, Community Banks, Credit, Political

You Tube Video: Lightnin’ Hopkins, My Starter Won’t Start This Mornin

April 11, 2008 Posted by | banking, credit crisis, SME | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Too Big to Fail

Mini Me is Big Time

Last weeks Senate Hearings on the credit market crisis and the role of the Fed in the bailout of Bear Stearns produced some dramatic headlines, noteworthy quotes and an opportunity for politicians, regulators and big swinging bankers to come together to shed some much needed transparency on the situation.

People are confused, uncertain and fearful. How can the boom go bust so quickly and how can the American economic colossus be brought to its knees in such a pedestrian fashion? The talk on Main Street is big banks vs. sub prime mortgage holders and the political calculus of which class of debtors in default pose the greatest threat to the economic prosperity and political stability of the nation.

The emerging economic environment will reify a new political landscape that can potentially broaden the divisions of a divided nation. The to big to fail rationalization of opening the Federal coffers to bailout failing capitalist enterprises is perceived by many taxpayers as the rich and powerful taking care of the rich and powerful by robbing the poor to pay the rich.

To paraphrase Senator Dodd, “we can’t be perceived as if we are privatizing profit and socializing risk.” It is dangerous to arbitrage the nations economic and political default probabilities. Who is too big to fail? That will be a question that the voters should have some say on come November but the discourse thus far has been confined to Senate chambers and the hard to locate CSPAN channel. It has yet to come to the fore in any meaningful way in the campaigns of the political candidates running for office in this year’s election.

Give the Fed high marks for acting. Give some of the Senators credit for understanding that the actions of the Fed help both large institutional banking interests and the little guy concerned about the reset rate on his ARM.

Shame on the politicians that are trying to make hay by sowing divisions among interest groups for political gain.

Risk: Political, Banking, Class, Market

You Tube Video: Peter Gabriel, Big Time

April 10, 2008 Posted by | Bear Stearns, credit crisis, pop | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment