Thursday, March 26, 2009

More about Bob and other things

He's back !  And not a moment too soon !  Bob Barker, a legendary TV personality from my youth, returned to the Price is Right this week.  The worldwide fraternity of Bob---some on a roll, some not--is renewed and refreshed by his luster.....  

Have more work to do on that Bobby Jindal from Louisiana, though, but that's a longer term proposition.

If only there was a way to morph the name Barack into some form of Bob, we'd really be in business, yes?  OK, dream on, dream on.....

Now, on to more serious matters.  How about the Catastrophe?

After a first month of fits and starts, the Obamites are finally on to something that I can support, though a bit half-heartedly.  The attempt to address the capital structure of the insolvent money center banks without having to do the dirty work of declaring them insolvent---and the possible resultant worldwide financial panic--has been finessed beautifully so far.   The details, including the terms under which the private/public rescue effort will be undertaken, appear to have satisfied Wall Street types, as a first cut.  So, at least one key segment is not now rooting for failure.  

The plan itself is very high risk but ingenious, as it addresses the heart of the matter---namely, how to value the toxic assets held on the books of banks and financial companies all over the world.  Until now, there was no public market for the derivatives, swaps, and so forth, and therefore no accepted method to value the toxic paper (e.g., lower of cost or mark-to-market methods for conventional assets).  This one factor is at the center of the credit crisis.  The banks have assets, they don't know what they're worth, they fear they're worth far far less than the value carried on the balance sheet, and therefore they restrict normal lending activity due to fear of capital inadequacy or insolvency once the toxic paper is marked down or written off. 

The Treasury plan goes right for the valuation issue by engaging private investors in the process of initial valuations for these assets.  Absent transactions, there will be no solution, so the genius of the plan lies in its attempt to force private sector transaction activity to begin.  Even though the Treasury is writing very expensive 'insurance policies' for these initial investors, it is essentially trying to create a new, open market for these assets overnight.  

How about a nice fat bonus for our man Tim G.?

FINALLY, emotional moment #73 from humankindness stories in the midst of The Catastrophe. Tuned into NBC Nightly News this evening, which, after the 3rd denture and arthritis commercials, segued to a wonderful story about American heroes---one, a fuel oil distributor in Maine who allowed his customers to renegotiate their fixed price home heating oil contracts to take advantage of lower oil prices, thereby saving local families (and costing him) tens of thousands of dollars.  And the other, a hairdresser who, on her day off, comes into the salon to offer free hairstyling for unemployed women who are prepping for job interviews.

Don't know why, but as the news video was rolling, I just started to cry.....

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