Economic Bailout for Dummies


The rhetoric of fear made its way into the election as still President Bush (for 111 more days) put on his serious face, stared into the camera, and lied to bail out his Wall Street pals just like he did for his oil buds six years earlier.

They need us to buy into this Ponzi scheme, disguised as reform. Part of the lie is to make it sound so big and outside our ability to understand. I prefer simplicity.

An example of how it would work is the Blockbuster business model. Wayne Huizenga is a brilliant businessman. Living in South Florida at the time, I was able to watch him grow. After several successful businesses, he started renting videotapes and DVD’s through his creation, Blockbuster Video.

Blockbuster taught him a simple principle, if there was an asset you could re-sell and re-use (thus earning income) over and over again, you could make an infinite return on your initial investment. He would rent videos earning much more then the purchase price then re-sell the asset at a discount but still make a huge profit.

He bought Alamo and National Rent a Car and founded AutoNation. He would buy the auto fleet from a manufacturer at volume discount, earn back the purchase price++ renting the autos to customers, then sent them over to AutoNation to re-sell at 60-70% of what he paid and made money three ways on the single automotive asset (asset depreciation on his books being the third way).

Simple and brilliant.

And that is what Wall Street wants us to buy into now.

They took assets (mortgages) re-packaged them as securities (sub prime paper) and sold them (making huge commissions) and now want this package where the government buys the bad debt paper, they make money on the transaction and a commission when the loan is re-sold while we hold the bag.

Simple and brilliant.

CEO pay accountability is the tip of this iceberg. It’s what gets printed in the annual report and everyone, including politicians and Joe Six Pack can easily see. The top traders though at Lehman earned more than the CEO. And any reform has to impact these speculative traders and their ill-gotten gains.

Even the Archbishop of Canterbury here in England yesterday said shame on you for this un-Christian like behaviour to top traders robbing from the poor to give to themselves.

We were scared into the Iraq War. When Dick Cheney went to Capitol Hill this week to cow his Republican cohorts into accepting the bailout, because… he said so, he barely escaped alive. With his political capital in shards, he slinked out of there scowling more than usual.

When former majority leader Dick Armey tells an author in tears that he felt betrayed because Cheney came privately to him and said look, Saddam has a suitcase nuke… he had no choice but to rally the party. There is no limit to the lengths they are willing to go.

Now with dire threats of a 1930’s style Depression unless you do this bailout our way leading the talking points list, Congress and the public aren’t fully buying it.

Even perky, spunky Sarah Palin entered the media fray with her third interview. This time it was with the anchorwoman who epitomised perkiness whilst host of The Today Show, Katie Couric. Couric tried her best to pin Sarah down where “Charlie” (Gibson of ABC News) failed.

Katie looked pissed. She neither hides her emotions (disdain in this case) well nor suffers fools lightly. It was clear she did not like this woman masquerading as Veep candidate.

So in the specifics, Congress needs to do more than symbolically go after CEO pay, they need to frog-march those responsible to jail and seize/sell their ill-gotten assets.

Where are they?

Well in the words of Sarah to Katie when asked a third time what, specifically, John McCain has done being pro-regulation, “I’ll try to find some and I’ll bring ‘em to ya.” I would love for Rachel Maddow to have two minutes with her.

denis-campbell.gifThe primal scream that may have awoken you this morning was mine soaring across the ocean…

Denis Campbell

Denis Campbell is a US journalist based in the United Kingdom. He contributes to newspapers and magazines, is a BBC Radio election commentator and publishes the daily e-magazine The Vadimus Post from the Latin Quo Vadimus – where are we headed and do we know why?

Related stories by Dennis:


  1. says

    Gay rights are human rights.Everyone has (or should have) the right to marry who they love without government or societal interference. Marriage doesn’t need to be protected from gay people. Gays pose no threat to anyone’s relationship. Those who say so are only reacting out of fear – without a rational basis. The sheer hypocrisy about ‘protecting marriage’ when many heterosexual people (Congress included) make a mockery out of it on a daily basis needs to it. It’s OK to have an opinion either way about it, but at least let’s be honest about it. I don’t want ANY govt telling me who I can/can’t marry or deny me the same rights heterosexual couples get. As for kids, they’ll be alright. All they need is love, guidance and acceptance. Both gay and straight parents can provide that.

  2. says

    I really enjoy what you blog about here, very fresh and intelligent. One issue though, I’m running Firefox on Debian and parts of your content are a little misaligned. I know it’s not a popular setup, but it is still something to keep an eye on. Just giving you a heads up.

  3. says

    A quick comment regarding advertising on your website. The Adsense advertising is really annoying and destroys your blog, why do you run that kind of stuff? I’m sure it doesn’t make you more than a few cents a day anyway.
    I had the same problem about a year ago and found which is a powerful, easy-to-use script that allows you to run your own ads on you site and you keep 100% of the money, works especially well on WordPress powered blogs! I’m not going to explain all the features since they have a really nice demo site and I don’t want to post too much in your comment section here.
    Anyway, I personally use this ad manager and it really makes me some nice money from my website and my advertisers really appreciate the ease of use. It is usually sold for ‘just’ $47 which is a pretty high initial investment for us bloggers.
    But since I really enjoy your site, I’m going to give you one of my coupon codes which enables you to a 10$ discount. You can also share this with your readers if you want to: Just go to that page, and it will show you ‘Special Offer … $10 discount (claim now)’. Just click “claim now” and you’ll receive the coupon code right away.
    Just have a look at it, I’m sure you’ll see the benefits of controlling what advertisement is displayed on you website and within a few weeks you’ll be making more money with this than shared advertising. Enjoy, Minna Brucker!

    • says

      Ads are a big challenge. You’re correct in assuming we don’t make much on Google Adsense ads. We’ve used OIO publisher but weren’t satisfied with the quality of the ads. We’ll keep experimenting. Thanks for the input.

  4. says

    Dear Gary,

    I agree. This is a bad plan. There is a hybrid solution that makes market and economic success.

    The Admnistration’s power grab is not smart. The Resolution Trust Corporation (RTC) was a sensible solution that did its job in the S&L crisis and the US Treasury got most of the money back.

    Giving power to the former head of a Wall Street firm that contributed to creating the problem with dodgy paper, greed and recklessness scares me as much as the Iraq War for oil barons.


    Denis Campbell

  5. Gary Jones says

    No one in Washington is listening…

    One of my oldest friends (over 25 years) is a staunch capitalist and neo-conservative. While he is not a religious fundamentalist (actually he is an atheist), he is certainly an economic fundamentalist. I, on the other hand, definitely lean to the left of center, and my friend places me in the “bleeding heart liberal” camp. Needless to say he and I have disagreed about almost every political and economic issue and event that has occurred in the course of human events. However, on the topic of the economic bailout, he and I are in complete agreement.

    JUST SAY NO!!!

    He and I are not the exception. As I have been spending time talking with my liberal constituents, I am finding little or no support for this bailout and the right wingers are already in open revolt over this issue. The elected officials of this country should be served notice that unless they are willing to listen to the people they risk eminent ouster from their political positions.

    We need to start thinking again and quit behaving like a bunch of amoeba in a Petri dish. The American people are strong enough to withstand the worst of economic and political times. It is time that Washington quits trying to appease their cronies and corporate benefactors and do the job they were elected to perform.

    Please call, write or email your representatives immediately. Do not hesitate, because we as a nation and a people are out of time. We need to stop the political and economic incompetency that has brought us to the edge of the abyss. Another 700 billion in the hands of incompetent business and banking is an outrage. Asking the American people to give them this money is criminal.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *