Secretary Geithner and Peter Pan Economics

In the past, I've referred to Peter Pan Conservatives--those who think that winning wars is largely about will (and not logistics, supply, or local political conditions). Well, Treasury Secretary Geithner is now practicing Peter Pan economics:

...top officials in the Obama administration and at the Federal Reserve have convinced themselves that troubled assets, often referred to these days as "toxic waste," are really worth much more than anyone is actually willing to pay for them -- and that if these assets were properly priced, all our troubles would go away.

Thus, in a recent interview Tim Geithner, the Treasury secretary, tried to make a distinction between the "basic inherent economic value" of troubled assets and the "artificially depressed value" that those assets command right now. In recent transactions, even AAA-rated mortgage-backed securities have sold for less than 40 cents on the dollar, but Mr. Geithner seems to think they're worth much, much more.

And the government's job, he declared, is to "provide the financing to help get those markets working," pushing the price of toxic waste up to where it ought to be.

What's more, officials seem to believe that getting toxic waste properly priced would cure the ills of all our major financial institutions. Earlier this week, Ben Bernanke, the Federal Reserve chairman, was asked about the problem of "zombies" -- financial institutions that are effectively bankrupt but are being kept alive by government aid. "I don't know of any large zombie institutions in the U.S. financial system," he declared, and went on to specifically deny that A.I.G. -- A.I.G.! -- is a zombie.

This is the same A.I.G. that, unable to honor its promises to pay off other financial institutions when bonds default, has already received $150 billion in aid and just got a commitment for $30 billion more.

The truth is that the Bernanke-Geithner plan -- the plan the administration keeps floating, in slightly different versions -- isn't going to fly.

...officials still aren't willing to face the facts. They don't want to face up to the dire state of major financial institutions because it's very hard to rescue an essentially insolvent bank without, at least temporarily, taking it over. And temporary nationalization is still, apparently, considered unthinkable.

But this refusal to face the facts means, in practice, an absence of action.

As the guy in tights would say (Peter Pan, not Geithner), anything's possible if you wish hard enough.

So when do we impeach Geithner? (Henry Gonzalez, a nation turns its lonely eyes to you...).

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It's sad that Obama is doing well on most other issues.. but if this is allowed to fester unchecked, like it is right now, it'll probably bring down every other initiative he has with it. Depressing.

The people who stand to take the biggest haircuts if the toxic waste is flushed are Geithner, Bernanke, and Summers's fucking buddies. It's not Peter Pan Economics, it's Give Your Buddies Reacharounds Economics.

Fear does this to people even when they don't realize they're afraid. They think they're rational but they're not. Maybe it's evolution's fault. Fear and greed are workable strategies. But so is pooping in the corner and people have learned to toilet train their kids. How about learning to calmly look at reality and see what needs to be done so that people can have shelter, food and health care?