Anyway, in my own small way of not aggravating the markets, I decided to save the blog until something more positive could be written. And now we have it.
The world got the new bill via the World Wide Web. Major progress. And the new bill is much better than the original 3 page draft.
Three press conferences later - first by the Democratic leadership in the Senate, then Rahm Emanuel (D), then the leadership of the House Republicans and somewhere in between no threats of veto from the President - Congress finally has a what I will call a "song". And by "song" I mean people (Members of Congress on both sides) are singing in tune (not all in agreement but sufficient to have harmony) and the some real lyrics (what they say, how they say it and the content of the bill). To be clear, I would not award a Grammy for songwriting but although we may not agree with every word, the fact is the language is less offensive. This is now a song that people - the markets, investors and taxpayers - may want to hear and may even like.
Here's the key question - how do you get people to actually buy the CD? Because implementation is really the key to the solution; the legislation is just the authority and the safeguards for action.
So allow me four quick tutorial suggestions:
- Members of Congress should take "Markets 101" to understand how what one says, how one says it and the timing of what one says makes a world - literally - of difference. If Members of Congress understand the markets, then they can explain to their constituents 1) the size of the fire 2) where and how the gasoline is spread all over the country and 3) the apparant colossal "dam-burst" required to out the fire and prevent it from spreading. Whilst I recognize that legislators have to state their objections for the record during the vote, the markets may not necessarily see it that way. So brace for volatility the days there is voting since voting is televised.
- Members of Congress should take "Strategy 101". This fire needs to go out quickly with the best implementation possible. Prevent another fire - speed up appropriate regulatory and accounting reform (in action, not just words). Investigate for arson after. Delegate the "woe is us" deliberations to the Historians. Gaining acceptance from the taxpayers may be tough, but when leaders complain, they are leading people to complain. How is that constructive? And after all the heated - and sometime vitriolic - rhetoric in the last few weeks, information overload is real, and the information is largely negative. Optimism may be the strongest global currency we will have for a very long time.
- Bankers should brush up on "Bedside Manners 101". One cannot blame lenders when they are only part of the problem, and a small part. Believe it or not, people do understand that "paper" - otherwise known as some inventions of the financial engineers that used their personal mortgages - is a significant part of this problem. They draw the distinction between the mortgage and the "paper". And they cannot be held responsible for downturn in housing prices. They also know that lenders engaged in predatory lending. Now that is not to let borrowers who just do not meet their obligations for no good reason off the hook. But be real about the causes of this problem. Authenticity is a very important attribute of credible leadership. Furthermore, one also cannot blame the borrowers because one depends on them for deposits. Banking is based on confidence - and people do not like to be offended, or lied to.