While the U.S. Senate predictably capitulated to the demands of Wall Street, for the first time in recent memory the House listened to the American people and blocked Paulson’s bailout of his rich buddies by U.S. taxpayers. The same House that refuses the public’s demand that the Bush regime be held accountable and its gratuitous wars halted refused to hand over $700 billion to the financial institutions whose irresponsibility has brought the U.S. to its worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.
We must be thankful for this sign that American democracy is not completely dead and supplanted by executive branch authority. However, whatever bailout package that emerges will fail unless it takes into account the following.
Any package that maintains the mark-to-market rule and permits the resumption of short-selling will undermine itself. In panic conditions without the existence of a market, the mark-to-market rule results in asset prices being driven below their values, thus eroding balance sheets and producing insolvencies. Short-selling permits short-sellers to profit by destroying the share prices of institutions suffering balance sheet problems, thus eliminating their ability to borrow and driving them into failure. A bailout, however large, that maintains the mark-to-market rule and permits short-selling will pour money into a black hole. [More]