A shocking report from an independent auditor within the Treasury Department has warned that the President’s TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) and associated bailouts have actually increased the risk of a far worse financial crisis in the near future.
Neil Barofsky is the Special Inspector General for TARP and in his report to Congress he warns that the problems which caused the crisis have not been addressed and in some cases have gotten worse. Mr. Barofsky uses the metaphor of a car rushing towards the edge of a cliff, claiming that TARP was supposed to prevent a crash but has actually put the nation into a ‘faster car’ headed for the same cliff.
Much of the report focuses on government intervention into the markets to change prices.For example, the report discloses that an extraordinary 90% of all home mortgages are now owned or backed by the federal government, and that government spending is designed to keep interest rates low and home values high.
Some observers believe home values have not yet seen rock bottom, and believe that home prices need to fall another 8 to 10 percent below last year’s lows before the real estate market can be considered to have truly corrected itself, and as long as the government is keeping home values artificially high through low-interest lending and foreclosure-deferral programs, the market cannot correct itself.
Beyond the real estate market, Wall Street is also being artificially propped up. The government bailed out the bankrupt firms and essentially nationalized their losses, just as was done with General Motors. We now have a situation where the government takes on the risk and assumes the losses when things go badly, but when things go well the corporate execs get billion dollar bonuses, as is now the case with the banksters.
You don’t need a PhD in economics to realize that the government is actually encouraging more reckless behavior by establishing a precedent for bailouts and nationalization.Instead of forcing the drug addict into a painful but necessary rehab program, we’re simply giving the addict more of what he is hooked on and changing the subject whenever he starts to talk about cleaning up.
Meanwhile, the Swiss government is saying the massive bank UBS may collapse due to pressure from the US government to disclose the names of a few thousand people who may not have paid the taxes they owe. So we have the US government pushing a huge global bank to the point of collapse in the middle of the worst economic crisis in 70 years because a few thousand US citizens may have tried to move their money offshore.
At the same time, headlines last week announced that the Obama administration may propose legislation to force the NCAA to have a football tournament instead of the ‘bowl’ system that has been used for decades. And nationwide nearly 30% of the population is living within striking distance of the federal poverty level.
In this ‘Alice in Wonderland’ world we now live in, these developments pass for normal news, and yet America seems more concerned with Tiger Wood’s girlfriends and whether or not Brad Pitt and Angelie Jolie may split up. Don’t be fooled folks, we’re at the tipping point and when the government checks bounce, or the dollar is worth as much as a peso, or the lights go off and don’t come back on, things are going to get messy.