Forex Blog - It's an Archie Bunker World. Congress and Paulson Have an Agreement; Don't Confuse Theater with Done Deals.
I canâ€™t tell you how many
calls I have had today from people utterly exasperated with our political
representatives in Congress after watching the Senate Finance Committee hearings
with Paulson, Bernanke, Cox and Lockhart. Indeed look at equities today
which reversed early gains (decent ones) as the hearing progressed suggesting
investors are worried Congress and the Treasury may not get a deal done on a
major bank rescue package in enough time to avoid a banking calamity â€“ like the
one that almost unfolded on Thursday.
Well this all reminds me of
Archie Bunker (the 70â€™s sitcom) complaining about his ethnic neighbors,
opponents of the war in Vietnam, hippies (like his son in-law Meathead) and
uttering about every stereotype imaginable. For those who
donâ€™t know the stereotype it goes like thisâ€¦the Congress is responsible for
everything in life that goes awry. They do only bad not good and have one
voter in mind when making all decisionsâ€¦themselves. If Archie Bunker were
still running George Jefferson would not be the brunt of his prejudices, it
would be Congress.
I feel like Meathead, the
curse on Archie Bunker, who married Archieâ€™s daughter and lives in the house
with the Bunkers. Meathead was a liberal, anti-war near-hippie.
Folks Congress is not the
problem. Congress has a deal with the US Treasury Secretary before the
hearings started today. The hearings would not have happened unless there
was a basic agreement. Today is all about political theater.
Senators go home to constituents in a week, many facing an election (one
third). They need to show themselves in a hearing not rubber stamping
anything Bush admin related. Paulson will have to adjust his bill before
Congress finalizes and it will be finalized within a week. So all those
legal stock sellers who felt a need to dump equities on todayâ€™s hearing (and
those exiting risk in credit markets), need to get a grip. This is
theater. It is the same stage that has been in place since ancient Greece
in western political history.
I think stocks should be
sold for other reasonsâ€¦a deep and long recession and depressed corporate
profits (if anything large cap financials have put in a bottom â€“ upside
limitedâ€¦maybe a large cap financial is an oxy moron).
Archie Bunker take on
Congress comes closer to home for many financial market professionalsâ€™
prejudicesâ€¦Congress does not know a CDO from a UFO. Why should elected
officials not from a background of finance have the right to question Paulson
and Bernanke? Well it is part of the imperfection of the political system
â€“ checks and balances â€“ and carries an F150 full of shortcomings.
But what else would one want instead? A dictatorship that
decrees bank rescue plans? I donâ€™t think so.
One other Archie Bunker
stereotype has to do with Fannie and Freddie â€“ the Democrats are beholden to
the GSEâ€™s because they get the bulk of the GSE political contributions.
This is patently false â€“ Senate Republicans got more than Senate Democrats and
House Democrats got more than House Republicans and both partiesâ€™
representatives got about the same. And in another Archie-Meathead
moment, the biggest benefactor of Fannie and Freddie is (was) Wall Streetâ€¦fixed
income desksâ€™ largest customer, debt underwriting desksâ€™ largest
customer. Wall Street had much more to lose in a closing of the doors of
Fannie and Freddie than Congress. And yes there are thieves and villains
in Congressâ€¦but Wall Street bashing Congress is not sport, it is the epitome of
irony - throwing stones in glass houses.
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