Bailouts and False Hopes

Bailouts and False Hopes

One of the more interesting phenomenon observed during the bubble was the perpetuation of denial with rumors of homeowner bailouts. Many homeowners held out hope that if they could just keep current on their mortgage long enough, the government would come to their rescue in the form of a mandated bailout program. Part of this fantasy was not just that people could keep their homes, but that they could keep living their lifestyle as they did during the bubble. What few seemed to realize was any government bailout program would be designed to benefit the lenders by keeping borrowers in a perpetual state of indentured servitude. With all their money going toward debt service payments, little was going to be left over to live a life.

All of these plans had benefits and drawbacks. One of the first problems was to clearly define who should be “bailed out.” The thought of bailing out speculators was not palatable to anyone except perhaps the speculators themselves, but with regular families behaving like speculators, separating the wheat from the chaff was not an easy task. If a family exaggerated their income to obtain more house than they could afford in hopes of capturing appreciation, did they deserve a bailout? The credit crisis that popped the Great Housing Bubble was one of solvency, and there was no way to effectively restructure payments when a borrower could not afford to pay the interest on the debt, and this was a very common circumstance. None of the bailout programs did much for those with stated-income (liar) loans, negative amortization loans, and others who are unable to make the payments, and since this was a significant portion of the housing inventory, none of these plans had any real hope of stopping the fall of prices in the housing market.

The main problem with all of the plans is the moral hazard they created because those who did not participate in the bubble and behaved in a prudent manner would be penalized at the expense of those who were careless with risk. In one form or another either through free market impacts or direct subsidies from the government paid by tax dollars, these bailout plans all asked the cautious to support the reckless. The moral hazard involved and the moral outrage from those being asked to pay the bills prevented any of these plans from being implemented.

Many of the bailout plans called for changing the terms of the mortgage note. This might have been easy in the days when banks held mortgages in their own portfolios, but it was nearly impossible once these mortgages were bundled together in collateralized debt obligations and sold to parties all over the world. Even if it would have been possible to easily change the terms, the resulting turmoil in the secondary mortgage market would have caused higher mortgage interest rates. When an investor faces the risk of the government changing the terms of their contract, and these changes would not be in their favor, the investor would demand higher returns. Higher investor returns means higher mortgage interest rates which would raise the cost of borrowing. This was the opposite of what the government bail plans were trying to accomplish.

Hope Now?

The first of the numerous bailout programs was “Hope Now” introduced in October of 2007. As the name suggests, Hope Now was sold to the general public as a reason for them to hang on and continue making crushing payments for as long as possible. It was a false hope, but even false hope gave homedebtors a little emotional relief, and it provided a few more payments to the lenders. According to their website, “HOPE NOW is a cooperative effort between counselors, investors, and lenders to maximize outreach efforts to homeowners in distress.” The plan was to streamline the process of negotiating workouts between lenders and borrowers to keep borrowers making payments and ostensibly to stop them from losing their homes. The emphasis was on making payments and maximizing investor value in collateralized debt obligations. Very few people benefited from the program, despite government claims to the contrary, and no rights or benefits were conferred to borrowers that they did not already contractually have. There was much fanfare when it was first announced, but the program did far too little to have any impact on the housing market.

The next bailout was aimed directly at the lenders with the Super SIV program introduced in November of 2007. An SIV is a special investment vehicle is an off-balance-sheet investment designed to hold investments a company (usually a lender) does not want to show on their own balance sheets. It is a smoke-and-mirrors device used primarily to get around regulations intended to stop lenders from taking excessive risk. The Super SIV program was intended to purchase assets from the troubled SIVs and provide liquidity for lenders who desperately needed it. The problem with the Super SIV was simple: nobody wanted these assets. Moving bad mortgage paper around was akin to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Few in the general public knew what this program was for, and even fewer cared. Most wanted to know their government was doing something to solve the problem, and the Super SIV announcement provided them with much wanted denial.

In December of 2007, the government offered a more direct homeowner bailout plan. The proposal was to freeze the interest rates on certain loans for certain borrowers for five years. This was greeted as a panacea by all parties, and the beast of homeowner denial was fed once again. As with the Hope Now program, few people qualified, and it did nothing to hold back the tide of increasing defaults and foreclosures. The denial was short lived, and this unnamed bailout plan quickly fell from the headlines.

In the Savings and Loan disaster of the late 1980s, the government was liable to investors for their losses through the Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corporation (FSLIC.) The government had no choice by to compel taxpayers to cover the costs of the industry bailout. The Great Housing Bubble had no such government liability. However, in February of 2008 Congress and the President signed the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008 temporarily increasing the conforming loan limit for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government sponsored entities (GSEs) that maintain the secondary mortgage market. This had the ominous prospect of putting the government in a position where they may step in with taxpayer money to bail out the GSEs, even though the GSEs are explicitly not backed by the assurance of government assistance. The GSEs provide insurance to mortgage backed securities, and by raising the conforming limit, the GSEs were able to insure large, so called “jumbo” loans. This enabled the holders of jumbo loans who were unable to sell these mortgages access to capital in the secondary market. The secondary mortgage market behaves as if the GSEs are government backed, and if they were to fail due to losses from the insurance they provide, the government may have had to step in to back them. All of this was seen as another reason for homeowners in severely inflated bubble markets to hope the government was going to rescue the housing market.

Forgiveness of Debt

Perhaps the most outrageous suggestion put forth was the suggestion by the FED Chairman Ben Bernanke when he proposed lenders forgive mortgage debt in early 2008. The moral hazards were obvious. Would people stop making their payments to make sure they qualified? Would more people buy homes they could not afford then appeal for debt relief? Rational people became frightened when they heard the head banker in the United States propose massive debt forgiveness as they realized this meant the entire banking system was in peril. The implications of this proposal were lost on the typical homedebtor who only saw how they might benefit from it. Debt forgiveness was the ultimate fantasy of every homedebtor. They could be relieved of their financial burdens and get to keep their houses and their lifestyles. It did not matter to the financially troubled that the proposal made no sense and had no possibility of happening, the thought of it would motivate them to hang on a little longer to see if maybe they could hit the jackpot.

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{adsense-ir}

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Do Nothing

It is difficult not to become cynical about all the various bailout programs, and the proposals outlined were not the only ones discussed in the public forum. There was a steady drumbeat of public plans and announcements that were never substantial, and their only purpose seemed to be to foster denial among those who needed it.

At the time of this writing, no substantive bailout program has been implemented, and that is a good thing. There is no possible bailout program without the commensurate moral hazards and unfair benefits they would contain. The best course of action would be to ease the transition of people from overextended homeowner to renter and not to attempt to manipulate the financial markets for the benefit of a few. There is nothing that can be done to prevent of the collapse of a financial bubble. The solution lies in easing the pain of their deflation and in preventing them from inflating in the future.

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Rescue me, oh take me in your arms

Rescue me, I want your tender charm

‘Cause I’m lonely and I’m blue

I need you and your love too, come on and rescue me

Come on, baby, and rescue me

Come on, baby, and rescue me

‘Cause I need you by my side

Can’t you see that I’m lonely

Rescue Me — Fontella Bass

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48 thoughts on “Bailouts and False Hopes

  1. IrvineRenter

    Yes, I wrote this some time ago. Funny how coincidences can make a topic seem more relevant.

  2. AZDavidPhx

    Fear not.

    After November 4th, the home debtors will get their timely one-finger salute.

    Until then, you can count on continuous lip service to string them along.

  3. NoWow!way

    One of the bright spots for making money in real estate for a family friend has been “management” of rentals. The number of their clients who needed management to over see their units has grown substantially in the last couple of years. However, right now they are looking at approximately 15% vacancy numbers of the units they manage. This new development in their business model is of very BIG concern.

  4. George8

    IR:

    You might have finalized today’s piece a few days ago. However, given the bail out of Bear Stern with JPM as point man by FED, I wonder if you have got the golden opportunity to address this into your writing?

  5. steve duncan

    Treasury will shovel money out to various entities suffering distress due to the subprime meltdown. You’re far too sanguine a bailout is not coming. If we don’t have the money we’ll print it. Markets, value of the dollar, balance of trade, inflation and all other complicating concerns and bitching be damned. It will be done.

  6. Mr Duncan

    Surely there has to be a way to better isolate the “pain” among those who deserve it. The idea that there are so many banks “too big to fail” is repulsive. Why can’t they be reorganized? Why not take the opportunity to create more banks and increase competition? In other words, how come obvious “market” solutions aren’t being proposed, but instead we’re getting corporate socialism?

  7. NanoWest

    Forgiveness of dept…….

    When I read of this idea by our head banker, I was absolutely shocked. This was a true indication of how out of touch our government bankers are with regard to the views of money. If banks are force dot forgive dept, then our money has no value………….the entire world will run from the dollar, and we will have global, financial anarchy.

    It seems to me it is time to “impeach” Berneke and find a new head banker, a banker that understands the a currency is only as good as the banks that you can put it in.

  8. buster

    The JP Morgan / Fed approach to the Bear Stearns implosing is the right approach. Bear Stearns is the counterparty to many contracts and it’s bankruptcy could really devastate our economy.

    The losers in Bear Stearns are just as they should be — the shareholders. Their stock went from $159.00 to $2.00. The shareholders take the beating. JP Morgan takes on the obligations of the counterparty and the Fed provides the liquidity. All in all, a decent solution to a very crappy problem.

  9. buster

    What I don’t understand is why nobody is publicly hailing the decline in the housing market as the new “affordable, don’t be indebted forever housing solution.” For every person who loses their home to foreclosure, another person has the opportunity for affordable housing.

    The FHA should not be part of the scheme to prop up pricing but should, instead, follow their mandate to facilitate affordable housing by doing what they can to push prices even further down. I can see it now; the government proposing to cut the time it takes to evict homedebtors from nine months to two months and forcing lenders to dispose of foreclosed properties within 60 days at whatever price the market will bear. That’s promoting affordable housing for Americans.

  10. roundcorners

    IrvineRenter~

    What about Interest Rates! With the Feds rumoring (expecting) to lowering interest rates by a full percentage this week, won’t that help people who’s ARMs are about to adjust? I talked to a few upper multi-millionaire property owners and they speculate that the bottom will be this year, because of the Fed’s aggressive moves. Can you elaborate (speculate) what will happen if the Fed continues to lower interest rates? Will fence sitters start to jump off and buy in droves? Will most of the people with ARMs be able to refinance? Will we return to a pre-bubble frenzy?

  11. lawyerliz

    More ARMs adjust according to the LIBOR (London interbank rate); I don’t know what it is trading at, at the moment.

  12. ipoplaya

    round – The 5-year ARM is up almost a full point since the Fed got aggressive in late January. 30-years are up a half a point over that time… Mortgages have gone nowhere but up since January and that will likely continue happening. Even the 1-year ARM has been moving up steadily in spite of the Fed’s efforts.

    I do think the Fed easings will help with some resets though. LIBOR is way down and the 1-year CMT is also down considerably. Many ARMs are based on those indexes. Drops in the Prime rate will ease the burden on those with HELOCs. For example, I am facing a reset come July 2008. As of right now, I’d go from my sub 4% rate I obtained in 2003 to around 4.75%. With more Fed cuts, that could mean my reset will only be to around 4%… I supposed there are some people that might be able to stay in a property given a point or two difference but the effect won’t be material IMO.

  13. skek

    I suspect one of IR’s biggest challenges is going to be keeping the manuscript fresh and current. Things are changing so quickly — price declines, bailout proposals, bank failures, economic indicators — that it will be hard to keep up.

  14. Stupid

    Enough with the bailouts. People need shelter and food. The shelter doesn’t have to be some house they bought that they couldn’t or no longer can afford.

    Instead of worrying about someone who has a house and doesn’t want to be a renter, they should be worrying about people who lost their jobs and can’t even afford rent.

    If they are eager to spend bailout money, it should be for work programs a la the Great Depression, so these people can get back on their feet and have shelter (renting sure beats a tent).

    Tent cities spring up in LA

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CnnOOo6tRs8

  15. lawyerliz

    IR, don’t get me wrong, I hope you publish your book and make a jillion dollars on it. . .

    But this blog is more important.

    It is a real-time self critiqued many thousand page long research paper read in real time by people who are surely in the upper 10% of whatever measure that you care to use for intelligence and common sense.

    Unlike a book, it exists in 4 dimensions, not 3.

    It and the other good blogs are a form of conveying information unlike any other in the history of the world.

    Not for nothing are the threads called forums (wince fora). Like the Roman forum where everyone (the guys anyway) hung out to wheel and deal and exchange gossip and try to influence the power structure of the day. Except here, we can check back and see what anybody said on a given day.

    You are lead author.

    It is different from and in many ways far superior to a book.

  16. Red

    The Japanese reduced the interest rate to ZERO and it still didn’t stop deflation of property values. The problem with overpriced housing is you still need to pay the money back; if you owe more than the value of the home, you can’t sell.

    Lenders won’t make non-amortizing, no down loans on homes that are dropping in value once they are sufficiently burned, and just the amortization of the loan can be higher than many of those teaser rate “option” payments.

  17. IrvineRealtor

    IHB dwellers,

    I don’t know why you all are so down on my buddy Bernanke… he’s a great guy. In fact, let me tell you about our last trip to Vegas:

    We flew out together and I told him I was making big bucks in RE, but wanted to know if he’d lend me some cash. He said, “Sure, no problem.” and ponied up a grand and told me that all I needed to do was promise to pay him back 6.25% amortized over 30 years.

    “No sweat, I’m good for it.” I replied. But then I thought about it and needed to clarify with him, “What if I gamble and win big? Can I keep my winnings?”

    “You betcha. Up to $250K gains-free and $500K if you’re married!” he replied. “And everybody has been winning lately, some more than others.”

    Sounded good, but I had to ask again, “But Benj, what about if I lose?”

    That’s when his billion dollar smile emerged. “You see, that’s the best part about hitting the strip with me… even if you lose, I’ll let you off the hook. No need to pay me back unless you feel like it, because I know you really wanted to win. How about we call it a ‘bailout’ move just between us.”

    True story babe. True story.

  18. Iblis

    Well said, Red.

    Prices have to come down. Nothing else will restore the RE market.

    If you prolong the process you only prolong the pain. The Japanese learned this. They were unwilling to bite the bullet, call bad debt what it was and get on with their economic lives.

    We don’t need a bailout, but anything that speeds up the process of bringing prices back down to market levels will be a good thing.

  19. Surfing in Newport

    …but how are you going to pay for it, you ask.

    We’ll just not pass the AMT index bill next. All those smart guys that thought they knew better by saving and not gambling with us will foot the bill.

  20. Major Schadenfreude

    “I’m actually for public investment now – repairing bridges, building infrastructure.” – from linked article above.

    Isn’t it too bad that civil, mechanical, & electrical engineers don’t royally screw things up as bad as “financial engineers”? Otherwise we would have PLENTY of work to re-do.

  21. NickStone

    The proposed bailouts are based upon the core philosophy that got Wall Street into this mess, namely “The Privatization of Gains and the Socialization of Losses.”

    I spent 12 years living in the third world, and watched the government essentially rob the country blind, knowing that the worst case scenario for them was a disgraced removal from power. Of course, the stolen money had long ago been transferred to blind bank accounts in Singapore in Euros (they honestly didn’t even trust dollars.) so retirement was looking pretty good either way.

    Sound Familiar? Like Wall Street.

    As long as that scenario continues, economic events like these will happen over and over again. It’s a simple downside/upside calculation. Wall Street plays with other people’s money. If they bet right, they get $160 million in bonuses. Guess wrong, they lose their positions in disgrace. (and the $160 million dollar severence package anyway).

    The bailouts are attempting to do the same exact thing… socialize the losses.

  22. Pete

    I have been trying for quite a while to understand the US capitalist system [I hail from Europe so it does take some adjustment]. I just found the essence of it in your description.

    As I just heard this morning on the radio: what’s the difference between Beijing and LA? Lots more commies in LA, of course!!!

    All these bailouts talks are just unbeliveable, and from an administration that calls itself Republican?

  23. Priced_Out_IT_Guy

    LOL@Tent Cities video

    Seriously, how can the BBC logically imply that foreclosures are causing people to become homeless?

    Does getting foreclosed on somehow also take all of the money out from under your mattress and get you fired from your job? Does it hijack your car and steal your wallet?

    RENT AN APARTMENT.

  24. Major Schadenfreude

    Let’s see, you had to go back, what, 50 years?

    Can you find anything comparable to the scale of the mess we are in now?

  25. charlesH

    Its not a bailout. Shares dropped from 150+ to 2. How is that a bailout? The shares were recently traded at 80. What the FED did was force a “shot gun wedding” between BS and JPM. It’s like the bank deciding to sell to the current home ocupant for slightly more that what they would get in a repo. It’s not a bailout in the classical sense.

  26. soapboxpolitico

    Pete – Welcome to our blog! It’s good to have a voice from the “old world”, perhaps you can lend a little social perspective on things from time to time.

    NickStone is correct. Wall Street has always operated under the guise of a free-market system but it simply been nothing more than that, a guise. It’s a farce, a jury-rigged system designed to bilk ever larger amounts of money from the unsuspecting and uninformed. Failing that, they simply rob from John Q. Taxpayer … all in the light of day no less.

    The manta on “the Street” is, privatize profits, socialize losses, as previously pointed out. A classic moral hazard. They know that if the blunder (or plunder) is big enough, the potential damage deep enough, that Uncle Sam will have no choice but to step in and save them from themselves. There is no downside for them, but all of us hardworking, careful planning types take it in the neck because our behaviors are seldom rewarded (save for satisfaction we personally earn) but our taxes will most assuredly be applied to the rescue.

    Frankly I’m sick and tired of these bailouts! When are we going to let these criminals take the full brunt of the punishment they richly deserve? I long ago left the Republican party because of just this kind of behavior. They talk about fiscal conservatism and free-market this and small government that but isn’t it curious that as soon as they get their tit in the ringer they go crying to Uncle Sam for help and relief?
    Properly designed and enforced regulation might have helped prevent this mess. It is no coincidence that when deregulation occurs a bubble shortly follows and with it a collapse and resulting bailout. Lincoln Savings and Loan ring any bells? (Anyone also recall that front and center in the Savings & Loan Scandal was Neil Bush, brother to the Current Occupant and son of the man who bailed out the S&L’s? Coincidence?)

    Pay no attention to the man behind the curtains.

  27. xy31

    I am just going to say levies and this bridge that collapsed last year?

    The problem is when mechEs and EEs screw up, people actually loose their lives compared to their “livelihoods” when the financial Es screw up.

    Would you rather I shoot you in the head, or fire you and take your house away?

  28. Laura Louzader

    Pete, when will people get that the Republicans are the most pernicious socialists?

    The bailout is just one more part of the Corporate Welfare Program that has always operated to make sure that chosen winners Get Theirs no matter how pernicious or unrealistic their aims, or how many competing entities are crushed by subsidized competition, or how many imbalances in the economy or massive misallocations of resources result.

    It started in the 1880s with massive grants of valuable land to the Union Pacific Railroad and has continued on to this day, resulting in redundant megamalls built three miles away from each other, made possible by TIF districts and tax abatements worth hundreds of millions of dollars, and lastly, this obscene bailout of Bear Sterns, and all the proposed plans to prop up housing prices at whatever cost to the polity as a whole.

    Have you ever wondered who in the hell supports all the redundant retail all over this country? Can it really make business sense to abandon a Walmart built 5 years ago and that is empty half the time, for a bigger one 3 miles down the road?

    Look around you as you roll through your part of the country or mine- almost every Target, Home Depot, WalMart, or major regional mall built in the past twenty years was made possible by the power of our governments on the local, state, and federal level, to allocate our money however they see fit.

    If you are the proprietor of a small retail business that is being crushed by Big Box emporiums, you can likely thank your local government for making you subsidize your powerful competition through tax abatements and other tax-funded “gimmes” for large, politically connected corporations and developers.

  29. ex-tangelo

    Stupid – The Tacoma Narrows Bridge failure was due to engineers pushing the envelope. Learning from that failure allowed us to build better, safer bridges now. (The particular lesson there is to not use solid walls for rails, but to have rails that are open to crosswinds and will not develop resonance)

    Engineering advances are filled with failures, and IMO, the only failure is when we don’t try to push the limits.

    And no one lost their life when Tacoma collapsed.

  30. Major Schadenfreude

    “The problem is when mechEs and EEs screw up, people actually loose their lives…”

    Of course, that’s the nature of civil projects.

    I’m looking for an engineering example where it was very evident to anyone with half a brain that “it wouldn’t fly” and when the project finally failed, the tax payers were left holding the bag while the engineers and politicians gave deer-in-the-headlight looks and said, “we didn’t know gravity was gonna be a factor!”

  31. ex-tangelo

    Paul Krugman writes:

    How close are we to a liquidity trap? – Paul Krugman – Op-Ed Columnist – New York Times Blog: When short-term interest rates are close to zero, open-market operations in which the central bank prints money and buys government debt don’t do anything, because you’re just swapping one more or less zero-interest rate asset for another…. Normally it doesn’t matter which short-term interest rate you choose…. But right now we are in a situation in which Treasury bills yield considerably less than the Fed funds rate… banks’ nervousness about lending to each other, even in the overnight market… Treasuries — not Fed funds — are the interest rates to look at.

    As of 10:38 this morning, the one-month Treasury rate was 0.57; the three-month rate was 0.825.

  32. Lost Cause

    I think of sprawl malls as more of a manifistations of Wall Street funding. How can a little guy compete against the well-funded chain? They play the local politicians off of each other like ping-pong balls. Town X will outbid Town Y.

  33. Lost Cause

    I don’t see a quick fix from the FED as helping for very long. There are trillions in hedge funds and other creative vehicles that are going to see an unwinding soon. The ultimate cause of this: the inability to continue to draw blood out of turnips.

    People are losing homes because of onerous terms. People are sacrificing to make the minimum payments, which are all interest. Many people here beleive in the bootstrap theory, and scold those who got themselves into a mess. But realize what it really is, a very clever pickpocketing.

    But that day is over. Rejoice! Gone will be the exotic loans and high credit card fees! People are not buying what they are selling. I think that will be the long term net effect of this collapse. I can’t wait until Citbank and their ilk go bankrupt. As for the foreclosed: be very careful when dealing with crooks, next time.

  34. Surfing in Newport

    Yes, engineers, architects, and other professions that build things do screw-up because they fail to predict in the future something that had not happen before. However, in a lot of these cases, there is a professional that recognizes the danger before lives are lost. When lives are lost, it is often because of fiscal constraints that delay fixing the problem. For example:

    The recent bridge collapse in Minnesota; the structure was known to have problems.

    The freeway bridge collapses in the Northridge Earthquake in S.C.; every overpass that was damaged was scheduled to be fixed because of changes in understanding of ground movement from the Loma Pieta Earthquake. Every overpass that was fixed, was undamaged.

    Finally, the lives lost due to financial engineering disasters are just as real. They just happen to be called suicides.

  35. Surfing in Newport

    Actually, I think you can go back to the constitution on the influence of big business on the way the government works. Why do you think slavery was allowed to continue? At this point of time it was not like every country allowed slavery, so it wasn’t like we would be breaking new ground. But it would have pissed off enough people with enough political power (i.e. money and friends) to cause problems.

    Capitalism and Mob Rule are close cousins. Only in the infrequent times when the government feels enlighten are protections put in place to protect the minority or the weak.

  36. Northwood Chris

    Hmmm, I think I would rather see a market-based resolution to this; let’s let nature take it’s course for once and put the free-enterprise system to work. After all, loose regulations and government non-interference were just peachy-keen before the housing market went south.

    Oh, I almost forgot! Market-based solutions are only best for flesh-and-blood citizens and not corporations!

  37. soapboxpolitico

    Laura, Lost & Surfing — excellent comments! Couldn’t agree more.

    We have only one “small” problem … the lack of oversight and regulation over the past 20 years or so has allowed banks, investment houses, telecoms and industrials to merge and consolidate their power. This is partially how they’ve managed to gather such a large place at the trough but more importantly, they’ve rigged the system so that it’s nigh impossible to allow the free-market to solve this crisis.

    Our only choices now are between the dangerous or suicidal. Although I am appalled at the Fed bailout of Bear Stearns did our government have much choice? A Bear Stearns is so massive with holdings so pervasive that it’s complete and total collapse would (and I submit did) ripple throughout the world doing untold damage. Moreover, we could not simply let the company collapse and be absorbed by the competition because there really is no competition to do the absorbing. So the free-market mechanisms cannot operate normally. If we hadn’t allowed all these mergers and acquisitions to go on like we did, there might have been just enough competitors to absorb the loss and pick-up the customer base.

    I work for a VERY large telecom, you know the one. If we ran our business so recklessly that we were on the verge of collapse, would/could our government let us collapse? (Who would do Dubya’s spying for him after all?) Although I’ve benefited from our mergers, I don’t agree that we’ve necessarily served the public’s best interests. I don’t suppose I’m alone here.

  38. Northwood Chris

    Gee, and who was the POTUS twenty years ago? Yes, it was The Gipper; an old dolt who could barely tie his own shoes, and Americans are still suffering from his policies even as his loser son Michael and loser Republican politicians like McCain bow at the altar of “Ronnie.” Americans are still suffering from the policies he put in place and it truly makes me sick to see the adulation as we slide off the cliff.

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