Ye of Little Faith
Upon the announcement of the Treasury selling the last of the $10 Billion of its holding in Citigroup, the U.S. Government realized a $12 Billion gain on its $45 billion investment. On the heels of its successful bailout of General Motors, the Feds are on a roll.
Bailouts make us all nervous, and for good reason. But the series of events over the last few months should give us pause. Our economy and system of governance is sound. Capitalism is not perfect, it has significant flaws as do our leaders. Deficit spending is out of control, and we will pay an ominous price if not corrected. Yet the turnaround of the capital markets and the judgments of the Fed have been impressive.
The duo of Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner have publicly said that “unemployment is too high” and inflation is too low. Between the two of them, they are playing one expensive game of cards, and let us hope they have the right cards. There is pressure on the hill to minimize the Fed’s authority, but one would wonder if taking tools away is the right gambit. Often an infusion of cash into the system (such as the recent Fed action) is confused with spending. The $600 Billion figure being bandied about is not spending or printing money at all, just lending to the banking system.
You may have seen the Bernanke interview on 60 Minutes on Sunday. You figure any guy with economic degrees from MIT and Harvard is smart, but he is also a cool customer (I was thinking about asking him to manage my portfolio). If anyone can lead us out of this debacle it is Bernanke. It is anybody’s guess if the latest cash infusion will work but at least we have the right guy driving the bus. Let us pray.