The wishes of the “green shoots crowd really hinge on whether the various organs of the suburban economy can be jump-started back to life — the production home-builders, the granite countertop outfitters, the mall and strip-mall gang, the national chain discount retailers, all the people who make Happy Motoring possible from the factory to the showroom, and, of course, the banks who shovel money into these enterprises.
All these organs of our now-former economy are gravely impaired, and they’ve entered the zone of congestive failure. The choice we face really comes down to this: do we put our dwindling resources and “hopes” into resuscitating those dying systems, or do we move forward to the next chapter of American life, cut our losses, and make new arrangements more consistent with the realities on offer from the universe?
It is so dispiriting to see Mr. Obama’s White House mount a campaign to sustain the unsustainable in the economic realm. Everything they’ve done for four months involving money management and enterprise policy — from backstopping hopeless banks, to gaming the bankruptcies of the big car companies, to the bungled efforts to prop up artificially-high house prices — amounts to a gigantic exercise in futility.
It’s one thing for a business such as a bank to fail; its another thing for the public to lose confidence in banking, or their own currency, or the credibility of all the people who work in banking, or the authority of those charged to regulate these activities, or the courts and their officers who are supposed to adjudicate misconduct in them. When faith in all these things starts to go, all bets are off for even larger social constructs like democracy, justice, and the destiny of a federal republic.
The Obama White House’s so-called bank “stress test” couldn’t have backfired more completely. Rather than bolster confidence in our money system and the people who run it, it only made the system appear more obviously corrupt. It made the Treasury Department (and the White House by extension) look idiotic for concocting it. Worse, the game of allowing the banks to audit themselves, and cook their books under newly jiggered accounting rules, only made them look less sound and trustworthy, and their executives more venal and mendacious.
Who knows what the point of this ludicrous exercise was? Observers in all corners of the media saw through it, and the public has only been made more cynical, and is now so furious over related stunts like AIG using taxpayer money to pay back swaps bets to Goldman Sachs that there is a whiff of revolution in the American air for the first time, really, since 1861.
The president is playing with fire on all this. The old economy is not going to recover, and so far Obama has not used his rhetorical talents to articulate what the next economy is likely to be about.
We’re not going to rescue the banks. The collateral for their loans is no good and it will only lose more value. All those tract houses on the cul-de-sacs of America and scattered on the out-parcels of our tragically subdivided farming landscape will only lose value, one way or another, in the years ahead–blown away in a hurricane of change that we were not ready to believe in. (Source.)