Swimming with the Razorfishes

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Big, Big, Big

Having been laptop-less for a couple of days, I haven't had a blogging environment set up, so I haven't been able to rant about the utter insanity going on in U.S. finance.

People have commented on the plusses and minuses of the "Paulson Plan," so I'll leave that one mostly alone. But I should mention that I'm not terribly confident that this cast of characters is going to solve any problems, particularly after the Treasury and the Fed present a plan that could be summed up as:

"We haven't really thought this thought, but why don't you just write me a check for $700 billion and we'll figure out what to do with it. I really don't think you need to know what we're going to do with all this money. In fact, why don't I put something in my legislation that expressly forbids congress or the courts from asking any questions."

Really, I'm not joking. That Paulson has some set of balls, I tell you. This is terribly important stuff; I hope it doesn't get rushed through.

The idea that a problem caused (in part) by bonkers Fed and Treasury policy can be fixed by giving the Treasury sweeping, unprecedented power and a big pile of money should seem rather silly.

But what really has me going tonight is this Washington Mutual intrigue.

Somehow, JPMorgan Chase & Co. seems to have acquired somewhere around $180 billion in assets for less than $2 billion. WaMu stockholders are completely wiped out. Most bondholders seem to be wiped out, too. This is a lot of pain spread out all over the place. Absolutely breathtaking.

Very few details of the deal are available tonight, but do read through JPMorgan's presentation materials.


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