Sep

30

Les Tricoteuses, from Jeff Watson

September 30, 2008 |

TricoteuseListening to the mainstream media, with all of the hyperbole, could cause one to think that the sky is falling. Partisan bickering, grandstanding, and strong invective by our elected officials has spilled over to the already roiled markets, especially since we're so close to the election. More than a few of my mystic, non-thinking acquaintances have been advocating revolution, with Capitalism being replaced by a kinder, gentler Socialist system. Their true desire is to punish the evil greedy speculators, hold all the rascals accountable, who with the minority party have decided to ruin this great country. Their anger is palpable, and their ultimate dream is to become a tricoteuse. Theirs is only a dream, as sitting at the guillotine would require courage.

Misan Thrope is incredulous:

Didn't Lehman, Washington Mutual, Wachovia, AIG, Freddie, Fannie, Merrill Lynch and Bear Stearns just go down the tubes? Or is it a figment of the MSM's imagination? Might not [insert your favorite name here] get in trouble next if nothing is done?

Stefan Jovanovich explains:

The hyperbole is in the argument that but for the bailout payroll-checks will bounce. I did a Google search, and I could not find a news article about a single company that had been unable to make its payroll because the Federal government had failed to reflate the real estate asset-backed securities market. The connections between the "financial system" and the actual private business being done in the country may once have been real, but they are now largely a fiction. Small businesses that I know operate on a cash basis and don't need/aren't granted bank loans nowadays.

Eastsider concurs:

I think we're seeing a classic availability heuristic bias in the public analysis. The clients of DC looter-lawyers need the bailout, and engineer hysterical media coverage of the problems. The press is now just a firehose of bull____, drowning out all competing viewpoints.

It's a tired cliche to say we're racing toward the world Orwell and Rand forecast, but that analysis seems increasingly, depressingly, apt.

Laurel Kenner adds:

The American Enterprise Institute, W. Isaacs and  others fingered the so-called "Fair Value Accounting" rule as a post-Enron creation run amok, a major cause of the credit freeze.
 
Up until tonight, the SEC said no, the rule just reveals what lousy investments the firms had made. They just announced sensible modifications to the rule.
 
I can only wonder what can the SEC possibly say to the seven major U.S. firms that have fallen because of this rule? Sorry, we were a little too enthusiastic… too bad about you.
 
In any case, I'm sure the new Tricots will love this one.

It seems we are in agreement, when Clive Burlin intervenes:

Ms. Kenner, that you, of all people, would say  that! The whole issue of FASB Statement 157 is a total waste of time; from start to finish.

George Parkanyi ponders:

The news about Fair Value Accounting is interesting, especially to see to what extent it moves the log-jam in the credit system.

With foreign aid, sometimes you can have nasty unintended consequences. For example, when food aid is distributed for free for too long, local agriculture (and self-sufficiency) can crash because the farmers can’t compete with the free food.

In observing the behaviour of LIBOR lately, one wonders if institutions are simply waiting for the government (the patsy) to sell to at relatively inflated prices rather put in the effort to value the securities and try to trade with each other? Could the government’s presence actually be detrimental to a resolution?

An Anonymous Contributor Adds:  

While I am not an accountant, I believe both type of "Guidance" ("active market" and "distressed sales")  just raises the hierarchy of guiding to a higher level. (Could someone enlighten me if I am wrong). I believe FAS 157 pamphlets originally used both these cases as examples of when to use "intrinsic value" versus "market values". What is really new?

Because "active markets" and "distressed sales" are both judgement calls, rather than defined terms, good luck getting your auditor to sign off on them. They remember Arthur Andersen too well and seem sure that there are no penalties for being too strict on interpretation, but get busted for being too liberal.

SEC seem to be taking the stance that "some accounting mistakes were made, but not by me". So they are willing to sell their brother to save themselves. Perhaps as close to an admission of guilt as you can expect to get from a government regulator. 


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