Federal Lending Institution
|| by jeff | tuesday, february 10, 2009 11:59pm | comments(2) | permalink | post comment ||
I have a question:
Rather than lend this bailout money to financial institutions, where the government can’t possibly have tight enough control over how it is managed, spent, or repaid, why not start up a federal lending agency instead?
This way they would have all the control they need over how the money is spent, as well as fine control over the overhead costs. They could loan the money directly to the businesses that would help stimulate the economy the most; and they wouldn’t have to worry about defining executive pay caps and all this other nonsense.
The other side of setting up this lending agency is that the government could buy out all the “toxic” debt being held by the remaining financial institutions, getting it off their books and putting them back on a path towards normalcy. Then the federal lending agency could work with the debtors to come up with reasonable payment plans (with directly controlled interest rates and terms), in part sponsored by the bailout.
Loans that turn out to be profitable, either made directly to responsible businesses or rehabilitated debt based on the above programs, could be sold back to private financial institutions to help cover the cost of the bailout and that debt which is not recoverable. This would limit the overall lifetime of such an agency and encourage moving back to normal business over time. In a sense, the debtors would be directly responsible for paying back the budget deficit caused by the bailout as well.
As a small side benefit, this federal lending agency could potentially create new jobs or recover lost jobs as well.
Doing the above immediately attacks the problem at its source while setting up the existing financial institutions to live or die by their own chosen business practices moving forward.
The only enlightened argument I’ve heard about why this doesn’t happen is that either 1) it grants the federal government too much power or 2) it’s politically dangerous to someone who would propose such a plan (presumably because of #1). But at this time, we’re having issues specifically because the federal government does not have enough power to tackle this problem in its current state, and the money they’re handing over to private institutions is being misspent. I would also argue that this actually helps the free market in the end because it gives private institutions the chance to reset the clock and move forward with productive business plans and zero government intervention. Call it a one-time “get out of jail free” card for the guys that got us in to this mess. Seems like a win-win for just about everyone…