Sunday, September 28, 2008

Paul Krugman critiques the draft version of TARP

Krugman's critique:
So there’s a draft version of the bailout out there. Pretty much as expected. Section 113, MINIMIZATION OF LONG-TERM COSTS AND MAXIMIZATION OF BENEFITS FOR TAXPAYERS, is where the rubber meets the road — it’s where the plan says something about how the deals will be done.

As I read it, Treasury can
(1) conduct reverse auctions and suchlike
(2) buy directly — but only if it gets equity warrants or, in companies that don’t issue stock, senior debt

My view is that (1) will be ineffective but also not a bad deal for taxpayers — firms that can afford to will dump their toxic waste at low prices, the way some already have on the private market, and taxpayers may end up making money in the end. Firms in big trouble will probably stay away from the auctions. The plan’s real traction, if any, is in (2), which is a backdoor way to provide troubled firms with equity — and the bill seems to say that taxpayers have to own this equity, although I wish it was clearer how much equity will be judged sufficient.

Not a good plan. But sufficiently not-awful, I think, to be above the line; and hopefully the whole thing can be fixed next year.

Add: House staff tells me that there are significant changes from this draft. More info when I get it.

1 comment:

  1. It remains to be seen if the plan will even get banks lending again. With a downturn coming anyway, banks may restrict lending and the deleveraging may continue.

    House prices must come down far more than economists are saying, otherwise it is not a good investment to even purchase a house.