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Monday, April 06, 2009

"Steady through This Storm"

Ricardo Caballero believes that if we stick with the Geithner plan, the economy will recover in the near future:

Steady Through This Storm, by Ricardo J. Caballero, Commentary, Washington Post: President Obama recently stated that he is a big believer in "persistence," and he provided examples of how he will persist in many areas of economic policy. That word and his examples gave me more hope for the future of the U.S. economy than I have had in some time.

We are experiencing the mother of all modern financial crises. ... Politicians and commentators from the left and right are in panic mode and have retrenched to their basic instincts, moving away from reasoned analysis. It is, frankly, scary to hear the right regurgitating the untimely liquidationist claims that Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon made during the onset of the Great Depression. It is also frightening to see the left going after Wall Street "oligarchs" and the financial institutions they have always hated, which finally are easy prey.

Fortunately, some voices of reason remain, and the Treasury, Federal Reserve and Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. are among them. They have been persistent..., one can get a sense of perseverance and determination, which are exactly what an economy needs during times of massive uncertainty. ...

The U.S. financial system is worth preserving, and the only safe policy while investors are in panic mode is to preserve it with as few changes as possible, with the government providing the resources needed to get to a point where we can fix the structural problems that contributed to the crisis. Contrary to popular perception, providing this support has nothing to do with the "zombie" policies of the Japanese experience during the 1990s. There, the problem was that banks kept making loans to unproductive companies to avoid having to recognize the losses associated with old loans to those companies. As a result, good companies had less access to loans than they would have otherwise. But a policy of supporting the sale of troubled assets through public guarantees, loans and equity participation, complemented with a public-private program to strengthen the capital of systemically important financial institutions, is the opposite of the zombie strategy. Such a framework builds a solid foundation for new lending and does not create incentives for banks to lend to the wrong clients.

If the administration's economic team can keep a steady course, and if it is persistent, we have a good chance of getting out of this mess in the near future. I am hopeful.

I have a different view. Of course we should persist if the plan is working, but if it's not, we need to move on to the next step right away instead of persevering on nothing more than the hope and belief that persistence and determination will be rewarded in the end.

    Posted by on Monday, April 6, 2009 at 12:24 AM in Economics, Financial System, Policy | Permalink  TrackBack (0)  Comments (22)


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