In the March 6, 2009 edition of this missive/blog/column/whatever you want to call it, I listed three 'Desperate Measures' the U.S. government might turn to next in its futile attempt to rearrange the ruined economy into something more resembling a perfect world.
Suspend 'mark to market' rules. At the time of my initial write-up (which you can read here), highly placed sources within the financial services industry that I spoke to were of the opinion that no significant changes would be made, for the simple reason that to do otherwise would risk destroying what little credibility was left for the financial sector.
As you now know, the government has strong-armed the FASB into modifying the rules, essentially allowing companies to 'mark to model.' Which simply means that the same financial wizards who helped create the models so pivotal to causing the mess in the first place are now free to dust those models off, give them a little tweak, and use them to fabricate more attractive values for the toxic waste than the market was willing to assign. Some might term these rule changes outrageous, fraud even... I call it business as usual.
Bad bank. The government has moved forward with this initiative as well, essentially rigging up a system that literally guarantees that a very small handful of firms -- likely just four or five -- will receive the sweetheart deal of the century, at the same time that the U.S. taxpayer gets the short end of the stick... right up the side of the head.
Fed buys long-term Treasuries. This, too, has now come to pass and is likely to accelerate. While there are many ways that one could describe this latest initiative, I find it best to keep these things simple... it's called inflation....
Filed under: Interest Rates, Credit Crisis, Inflation, Gold, China, Bailout, Taxes, Bad Bank, International Monetary Fund, Mark to Market, G20, IMF