Actually, we (collectively) feel fine. The reference is, of course, to the REM song: It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine.” Well, Hank Paulson, the nation’s chief panic-monger, told us for two weeks that if we didn’t bail out Wall Street, the world as we knew it (or at least the economic world as we knew it) would come to an end. Yeah, right. As I write, the Dow industrial average today is up 350 points. Paulson can take back what John Boehner called his “cr@p sandwich” and swallow hard.
At a press conference today, the ever-interesting Newt Gingrich not only again demanded Paulson’s resignation, but he also said there should be an investigation into Goldman Sachs. Why is it that G-S, Paulson’s old firm, is about the only investment bank coming out of this smelling like a rose? WHy is it (if true) that, as reported by the NYTimes, a G-S official was the only private-sector rep in the meetings at which AIG (or was it Fannie/Freddie — I think it was AIG) was bailed out? Is it true that G-S had a $20 billion stake in AIG? And was G-S shorting Bear Stearns, as rumor has it? With Paulson asking for a $700 billion blank check, and with White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten being a former G-S exec, and with other G-S execs or former execs playing outsized roles in this whole seven-months long “crisis,” I alread had been joking (for days before the Gingrich press conference) that George W. Bush has been acting as if he is Chairman of the Board of the United Executives of Goldman Sachs.
Well, this bailout might have been a great idea from the narrow little standpoint of G-S and Wall Street, but the American people smelled a rat. Other good ideas abound as to how to help get credit flowing again. Meanwhile, the market is smart enough to know bargains when it sees them. The market works well enough to absorb losses and move on. It’s not the end of the world as we know it. No thanks to Paulson, we do feel fine.