Thursday, September 25, 2008

Meanwhile, back at the ranch

I'm not entirely sure why or where this photo was taken. I suspect it's an Alaskan thing. Like hunting moose and rolling in the snow. It popped up in report that Palin has been busted by the National Enquirer having played hide the I-think-you-get-the-point with her hubbie's ex-business partner.

Given that there are Americans who apparently have the right to vote driving round with bumper stickers proclaiming her a good VP pick as she's a hottie, let us not assume that a tacky NE revelation that Sarah Palin may have clintoned at some stage is necessarily a bad thing. And as part of a campaign chock full of certainly weird things, the only negative thing to come out of these revelations will be the reputation of the woman sitting on the right of the front row. I hope she sues.

It might be that NE is attempting to draw attention away from the increasingly I'm not waving but fucking drowning antics of McCain's campaign. In a week which has seen McCain roam headless across that great nation in search of a campaign narrative, it appears he has hit upon the notion of deferring if not cancelling the first debate in light of the financial crisis. Off to Washington with Citizen John and just you watch - magically Capitol Hill will swallow the pill of Paulson's making, money will cross palms, bankers will get to go home to Martha's Vineyard still wearing their shirts, and the market has been rescued by the US government. Ta da.

Given that McCain is not and never has been on the Senate Banking Committee, he would have spent tomorrow wandering around the corridors looking for someone to stand around the water cooler with, but thankfully George W managed to be of use & summoning both Citizen John & Citizen Barack to the rose garden for a photo-op, will ensure John has something to write in his diary. Which still leaves the somewhat awkward few hours to fill before the debate but with any luck, Palin's indiscretions will turn out to involve Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan and that woman in the photo enabling McCain to skip the whole damn thing in a media dust storm.

Did you hear Bush's address? Did you hear what he said? "Panic" "serious recession" "grave danger" - is he fucking insane?

Rule No 1 of How to Contain Panicking Financial Types:

1. Never ever ever admit how dire things really are. Do not use the word panic.

Why? Because that is exactly what will happen. And what really infuriates me is that Bush's motivation would seem to entirely rest upon the need to force a less-than-compliant Congress into signing up to Paulson's deal. Well it worked over Iraq - can't see why it wont work this time.

And the most interesting question is WHY? Why now?

Are things suddenly that bad? This thing has been rumbling 'round since at least August last year, though anyone with a fly's worth of sense has been getting more and more worried about the financial slicing & dicing, creating financial instruments so complex it is very doubtful that anyone has a firm grasp on either how they really work and how they might cease to work.

Either Paulson is incompetent or shall I wander into the meadows of speculation? Within the last three weeks, the US financial system has lost ALL of its major securities firms. All of them. The most potent instruments for amassing and shifting about large chunks of credit in the US sphere. And Paulson truly had no idea they were under threat? There is no argument that transparency in the US financial market is akin to sunbaking in the Chunnel, but was regulation so lax, reportage so poor that Paulson & Bernanke had no Plan B in hand? That it all had to be cooked up over a couple of days and forced through Congress?

In a rather odd convergence of events, there's nothing like an election to focus the attentions of those whose next lucrative term at the Washington troughs is at stake, and having to go back to their constituents to argue that $700 billion given away to a financial system that has asset stripped the American economy is a really good idea is not a pleasant thought. So they gather on Capitol Hill to get those magical numbers just right so that neither the Dems or GOP will electorally carry the can on this post November. A resistance movement Bernanke & Paulson did not expect.

While they continue to plead before Congress committees, Bush is wheeled out to presumably spread a little panic among the punters, particularly those old enough to have some inkling of what a depression is, punters who will start ringing their congress persons tomorrow in terror at the President's dire warnings. Which might play politically, but when New York opens, Bush's indiscretion may play out as his own version of a butterfly flapping its wings. If Congress doesn't sign off on something by the end of the weekend, whatever confidence remained in the market will have disappeared. Next week might get nasty - real nasty.

None of which answers the question as to why now? Dare I be accused of cynicism by suggesting that by having left this bailout til now, it places maximum leverage upon all members of the Congress, and ensures that the fools responsible for it will have well and truly left the building by the time the bills start turning up. Leaving it to a new administration possibly run by Obama would not have given the Masters of the Universe the assurances they would wish for that such a bailout was and will always going to happen. Time it just right and everyone's happy. Well except the punters but they'll be too busy picking nettles and standing in unemployment lines to complain.

And double bonus time if that pesky Dem chappie does get in - things turn ugly, real ugly and come the next election Mitt Romney can ride out of the sunset of Republican conservative la-la fiscal Land and save us all. Provided of course that pesky chap does get elected. I agree McCain is doing a pretty good job of helping Obama but there are still 40 days til the 4th. 40 days in which things can get very very ugly indeed. And you can be assured that if the Paulson bill is delayed or not, should it fail, and there is every chance it will, it will sheeted home entirely to the Dems in Congress. And therefore Obama.

Ugly stuff. Classic Rove. God help America.