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Bush, Romney, and Obama all show some love to the bank bailouts, though -- who says we can't all get along

President George W. Bush (R) created strong divisions within the Republican party when he backed a $700B USD bailout of the struggling automotive and financial sectors.  Both he and current President Barack Obama (D) see eye to eye on this issue, though -- they felt that bailouts were the only thing keeping the nation from economic collapse.  

Public surveys during the height of the recession indicated that nearly 60 percent of Americans disapproved of the bailout.

I. Bush Defends Bailouts, Says he Did the Right Thing

Criticism from his party and the public has not swayed former President Bush's conviction that he made the right choice.  In a Q&A at an auto dealer convention in Las Vegas, President Bush is quoted as saying, "I'd do it again.  I didn't want there to be 21 percent unemployment."

As to the free market proponents that say that the companies should have been allowed to go through the traditional process of bankruptcy and liquidation, Mr. Bush disagrees.  He says that he would traditionally support that -- but that the cumulative impact of the recession required a more intimate approach.  He comments, "If you make a bad decision, you ought to pay.  [But] sometimes circumstances get in the way of philosophy."

He says he "had to" break with his rigid conservative roots and craft the bailout, in order to "safeguard American workers and families."  He takes credit for crafting the financial tools that President Obama would later use to slow the recession and set the nation back on more stable financial ground.  He comments, "[I expected to] kind of ride out to the sunset [in my last year of presidency].  [But] I didn't want to saddle my successor with an additional economic crisis."

He said his Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke approached him, stating, "Are you willing to gamble [with the chance of depression]."

He recalls replying, "I don't want there to be a depression, no matter what the probability may be…"

Bush looking down
President Bush says he made a tough choice, but the right one. [Image Source: Getty Images]

The bailout will go down in American history as a controversial invasion of the private sector, which the American government has traditionally sought to play a limited regulatory role in.  But some economists and historians also credit the program for possibly preventing a depression [source], although such "what if" scenarios are indelibly open to debate.

II. The Results

For all the resentment, President Bush believes that inaction would have left his reputation far more tarnished.  He states, "I didn't want to gamble. I didn't want history to look back and say, 'Bush could have done something but chose not to do it.'"

Presidents Bush and Obama used the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) to ease financial firms and automakers through a gentler process [1][2], which allowed them to consolidate their profitable segments and stay in business.  Laggard units were dumped off to the highest bidder in an attempt to pay the bailout loans and grants.

 Obama and Bush
Presidents Obama and Bush cumulatively archictected the bailout. [Image Source: AP]

The government even took a stake in many of the "bailed out" financial firms, as well as General Motors Comp. (GM) and Chrysler.  The government has recouped some of the money it loaned, but it will likely never be repayed some of the billions it poured into both sectors.  In fact, it's already forgiven some of the bailout recipients of substantial chunks of taxpayer debt, and given many of these struggling firms tax holidays, which will allow them to enjoy tax-free profits for years to come.

On the flip side of the coin, while the government isn't collecting any corporate taxes from these fortunate corporations, it has avoided a surge in unemployment.  GM and Chrysler today profitable [1][2] and hiring -- as are some of the rescued financial firms.

GM assembly line
Liquidation would have left tens of thousands of GM and Chrysler assembly line workers unemployed. [Image Source: Scott Olson/Getty Images]

Other nations also participated in the bailout of the automakers [1][2].

III. Republican Hopeful Romney Blasts, Bush, Bailouts

One person who is not a fan of President Bush or his bailouts is leading Republican 2012 presidentical candidate Mitt Romney.  He commented in September, "[Automakers] needed to move into a managed bankruptcy process rather than getting money up front by President Bush or President Obama.  They wasted a lot of money."

Mr. Romney stirred up controversy during the waning days of the Bush presidency, with an editorial in The New York Times,  "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt", which blasted the Bush bailouts. 

Let Detroit Go Bankrupt

In the piece he wrote:
 
IF General Motors, Ford and Chrysler get the bailout that their chief executives asked for yesterday, you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye. It won’t go overnight, but its demise will be virtually guaranteed.

Without that bailout, Detroit will need to drastically restructure itself. With it, the automakers will stay the course — the suicidal course of declining market shares, insurmountable labor and retiree burdens, technology atrophy, product inferiority and never-ending job losses. Detroit needs a turnaround, not a check.

Intriguingly, Mr. Romney has not been overly critical of the banking sector, which received far more money from TARP than the automotive sector.  One possible reason why?  According to Open Secrets, "bailout banks" such as JP Morgan Chase & Comp. (JPM), Bank of America Corp. (BAC), and Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (GS) have been extremely generous Mr. Romney, donating millions to his presidential bid.

On the financial sector he comments, "I believe that it was necessary to prevent a cascade of bank collapses."

Mitt Romney
Mitt Romney has attacked the bailout to try to score points with conservative voters.
[Image Source: Emmanuel Dunand/Getty Images]

Judging as the average corporation or special interest group receives $222 USD in tax breaks per $1 USD spent [source], the $10M USD he received from the financial sector would put him on the hook for roughly $2.22B USD in "tax holidays", and similar taxpayer funded goodies, should he be elected.

Source: Detroit News



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RE: Just spit through my nose
By lightfoot on 2/7/2012 5:21:48 PM , Rating: 3
We've stopped hemorrhaging jobs only because the patient (the US Economy) is dead, not because it has been stabilized. NOTHING has gotten better since Obama has taken office. It has merely stopped getting worse.

But again, Obama considers that a victory.

To recover from this recession we need to be adding jobs at a rate at least four times greater than current rates. Simply keeping up with population growth isn't good enough. Let me know when we add a million jobs in a single month. Only then we can start talking about recovery.


RE: Just spit through my nose
By twhittet on 2/7/12, Rating: -1
RE: Just spit through my nose
By Ringold on 2/7/2012 8:58:16 PM , Rating: 1
Sounds like you think a million was too much? Reagan actually managed it during a single month if I recall, with a smaller population. A million a month in an economy coming back from such deep depths of recession would actually be not unexpected.

Between the millions of jobs lost, the millions who have immigrated or become older and tried to join the workforce and failed to do so and millions who have given up trying to be in the work force but once were, we could easily sustain job growth 4x the current rate for a year or longer in a true "recovery." A million a month during the peak of a strong recovery for a few months shouldn't be impossible, if conditions were perfect. At present, unemployment is only going down due to a dropping participation rate as people give up looking for work, not due to job growth.

If 500 or 750k jobs gained a month sounds unreasonably high that not because it is, only because things have been so incredibly shitty for so long now that we don't remember what being a strong nation feels like any more.


RE: Just spit through my nose
By bupkus on 2/8/2012 12:13:28 AM , Rating: 4
quote:
Reagan actually managed it during a single month if I recall, with a smaller population.
Why, when I was a kid I could get into the theater for a dime. A dime!


RE: Just spit through my nose
By TSS on 2/8/2012 1:09:24 AM , Rating: 2
http://www.shadowstats.com/imgs/2011/680/image004....

You've forgotten what it is to be a great nation because you are constantly lied to which makes you forget who you really are.

The above chart is mearly your GDP, official figures, only something you don't see on regular news sites because it's not "news worthy". It's the GDP as it was reported in 2009, when it was recalculated in 2010 with more info, and recalculated again in 2011. Basically it's a correction in old figures rather then reporting of new ones. And as you'll notice in Q2 2009, there's a $250 billion gap between what your GDP was reported back then and what it actually was (for as far as we know if revised again i don't see that figure going any higher).

It's not reported because it doesn't matter "now". But you have to remember that every decision based at the time was based on the idea that GDP was $250 billion higher. To give you an idea how much money that actually is, that's the same amount of money you paid in fiscal 2009 on interest over national debt of ~$13 trillion.

That site is overflowing with charts that all say the same thing, what your told doesn't even come close to the truth.

A job gain of 750k a month is far more unreasonable then a job loss of a million a month would be at this point. Because this is going to get a lot worse before it gets better.

Remember your government couldn't even agree on $1,2 trillion in cuts over a decate. What you need to cut in order to have a fiscally sound budget, is $1,2 trillion worth of cuts (or tax increases) PER YEAR. Also you'd need to have a ACTUAL GDP growth of ~3% per year as well as paying down your debt to the tune of atleast $100 billion per year. Then you need to keep that up for 50 years.

That is what is required at this point to get out of this mess. Any delay will only make it worse. And yes. I know that sounds completly insane. It won't ever happen. What you need to understand is, that doesn't mean the above isn't a reality. It is. It just means there's no way out. Because, while mathematically there are still a few outs, your people will never stand for them. Raise taxes by 10% for everybody, that would help alot. It would also mean comitting political suicide. And the foks in washington get paid far, far too much to commit suicide.

If you're wondering how much worse it can get the above site also gives a nice figure. Because you work with non-farm payrolls, and in the great depression 20% of people worked on farms which is now 1-2%, the guy estimates current unemployment figures have to hit around 37% to be equal to how it was in the great depression. The highest his number has gone was 25% in 2009. So the awnser is, it can get hella alot worse.


RE: Just spit through my nose
By steven975 on 2/8/2012 8:32:53 AM , Rating: 2
I agree, yet many will parrot the current stats of GDP is growing X% per year, and patting themselves on the back for it.

As it stands now, deficit spending alone is about 8% of our GDP. Not sustainable, in any way.


RE: Just spit through my nose
By Ringold on 2/8/2012 8:15:10 PM , Rating: 2
I dont disagree with much of that, Republicans are also waving the flag on the debt and deficit and point at Greece as an example of what happens when issues aren't confronted, so not sure what you larger point is, unless its just to point out that, no, CNN doesn't pay attention to revised GDP figures.

As for the gap, the warning sign that the site has an agenda is that it overplays the delta by not starting its chart at zero. Being an economist myself, I'd of been surprised if it was accurate back then; it was an unprecedented event in the economy for modern models to work with. If you watched CNBC and listened to financial news though, many were suggesting things were worse then figures were showing and it was well known.


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