Friday, January 16, 2009

Reich on TARP and Obama's team on stimulus

Robert Reich has a post at TPM discussing TARP:
It's difficult to make the case that the first $350 billion bailout of Wall Street -- so-called "TARP I" -- fulfilled its goals, unless one argues that the Street would have imploded without it, which is pretty much what Hank Paulson is saying these days. And since it's impossible to prove a counter-factual, especially when the Treasury was never clear about TARP I's goals to begin with, Paulson may have a point. But the easier and probably more correct argument is that American taxpayers wasted $350 billion.

He then goes on to recommend some prudent restrictions on the TARP II money. Two of his suggestions:
1) Don't buy stock in the banks. This one surprised me because I had believed that buying stock in the banks (so we have something to show for our "investment") was better than just handing them money, but Reich makes the case that such money simply disappears.

2) Limit compensation to execs to 50% of recent years since they've already been over-compensated for performance that was based on false premises and fraudulent assertions.

I'm trying to ignore the TARP and stimulus fiascoes because if I look directly at them, I get ill.

Here is a report from Obama's team on the predicted impact of the stimulus on jobs. The report contains this graph that compares predicted results to what would happen in the absence of Obama's stimulus plan:
At peak, that's a 1% difference. That doesn't seem like much to me. The endnotes point out that some estimates show the unemployment rate, sans stimulus, to be as high as 11%, so the peak difference might be more. Maybe the way to look at it is that over the period they show (we won't be back to 5% rates until 2013, stimulus or no), that difference affects a lot of lives and has a big economic impact. Tim Fernholz at Tapped has coherent thoughts about this jobs report and provides the link to the report.


Scooter said...

I think the peak is almost two points at Q3 of 2010 but what is more alarming is the length of the disparity. I don't agree, of course, with the premise but, if true, that is a long time (now until 2012 at >5% unemployment) if the right wing pundits are correct that the average length of recessions since WWII is 18 months. Especially if this thing started in 12/07.

Stephanie said...

Ah, yes, you're right that in 2010 Q3 there's a 2 pt spread -- and that's probably the right way to think about it. I was looking at the peak with a stimulus and the peak without and those are 1 pt different (and occur at different times).