Sunday, March 22, 2009

This is Too Much to Ask?

Brad DeLong provides his summary of how the Geithner plan would work. It still sounds like a phenomenal deal for the private investors who get to go along for the ride - we put up $97 to their $3, then split any profits 5:1 (fortunately in our favor), and almost nothing to lose if they walk away. But despite some melodrama, DeLong offers by far the clearest explanation and most compelling argument in favor of the plan that I've heard to date.

If Geithner (or Summers) were to offer an understandable synopsis, like this, or even just confirm, "Yeah, that's what I'm talking about," we could have a much better conversation about the bailout. Is that really too much to ask?

(I still await an answer to Krugman's concern - what if this isn't just about the banks' balance sheets? Or the question raised by others (possibly inlcuding Krugman), what if the prices offered at auction are below the banks' "book values" for the assets and are rejected? It occurs to me also - will this be like an auction of repossessed autos, you can look at the surface but no test driving permitted, or will investors be allowed to fully scrutinize the securities in advance of the auction?)

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