Monday, August 24, 2009

Why We Didn't Crash

Today I left a comment to E.J. Dionne's Washington Post article "Why We Didn't Crash".
It actually angers me that space in a national newspaper is taken up by people who have basically nothing substantive to add to the conversation. Dionne is a good example of a guy who has been around for a long time and is now just someone who is famous for simply being famous. You know him so you read him but the guy is not much more substantive than a fat uncle who cherishes the simplistic lessons he learned at Woodstock.

Mr. Dionne,
The premise of this article is so completely ridiculous, it's hard to imagine how you keep your job. You could certainly argue that Ben Bernanke, who you don't mention by the way, was ultra-aggressive in his handling of monetary policy by essentially printing money via open market operations and holding fed discount rates at 0%. It's hard for banks not to recover to some degree when they have such low borrowing costs and the ability to lend at higher rates.

On the other hand, what fiscal policy measures has Obama conducted that would lead you to believe he spearheaded a "recovery"? The "Stimulus" money hasn't flowed through anything yet. His regulatory actions have, if anything, further confused the markets, and his proposals wreak havoc on business people who need to mkae long term plans. Oh, plus the massive debt that his policies, his, have created. Putting money on a credit card to usher in growth, is not serious policy to lead to sustainable growth.

You proceed to imply that we're out of the mess. You're right in a sense. We didn't crash in the short term due to Bernanke's manipulation of monetary policy. You confidently argue that "things could have been a whole lot worse" but you don't know that. They could have gotten better if prices had been allowed to adjust in various markets and the Obama administration allowed things to fail. There is obvious short term agony in this. But markets work like this and it's best for the general welfare in the longer term and the only way to a sustainable recovery. There are no short cuts. The quicker things fail, the quicker they can adjust provided there is transparency in how policymakers conduct themselves.

You also don't seem to appreciate that investors make long term business cases and this president's intervention is a net negative on that. I can vouch for this with my own company. We are planning cuts in the years ahead and not expecting growth. People form long term expectations. With Obama and bigger government, you don't take risks or plan optimistically if you are even somewhat reasonable.

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