Breaking News: Smaller Banks Prosper During Crisis

The Washington Post reports that “Banks throughout the United States carried on with the business of making loans yesterday even as federal officials warned again that their industry is on the verge of collapse, suggesting that the overheated language on Capitol Hill may not reflect the reality on many Main Streets.”

Which begs the questions: With bipartisan opposition from objective experts, why should any Congressman instead believe the very same Bush officials who helped create this crisis with their deregulation? These same Bush officials who just months ago said our economy was fine? All seems well with the majority of small banks across the nation.

The industry is resilient despite the struggles of some members. Washington Mutual, a troubled Seattle savings and loan that was among the nation’s largest mortgage lenders, yesterday was seized by the government and sold to J.P. Morgan Chase.

At the same time, many smaller banks said they were actually benefiting from the problems on Wall Street. Deposits are flowing in as customers flee riskier investments, and well-qualified borrowers are lining up for loans.

The National Federation of Independent Business members only had 10% that said loans were harder to get in August. But only 2% cited that cost and credit as their number one business problem. However, this is well below the 37%; that noted credit as their biggest challenge in 1982.

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Bailout follows the 10 Normal Principles for how our Government Functions

Salon

The word being used most frequently to describe the bailout package that is about to pass is “extraordinary.” That adjective may apply to the amounts of money being transferred from taxpayers to Wall Street, but the process by which this is all happening is anything but “extraordinary.” All of the “principles” that drive how our Government functions in general — what explain the last eight years at least — are perfectly evident in what has happened here:

(1) Incredibly complex and consequential new laws are negotiated in secret and then enacted immediately, with no hearings, no real debate, no transparency. Nancy Pelosi has praised herself for decreeing that the new law will be online for 24 hours before Congress votes on it — a full 24 hours for the American public to understand and assess a law that forces them to subsidize Wall St.’s losses in a way that may impact them for decades, if not generations. The most significant and consequential pieces of legislation over the last eight years — the Patriot Act, the various expanded surveillance laws, the Military Commissions Act — were the by-product of identical anti-democratic processes.

(2) Those who created the crisis, were wrong about everything, drive the process. Experts who dissent from the prevailing Washington orthodoxy, particularly ones who were presciently warning about what was happening, are simply ignored — systematically excluded from the process. Professor Nouriel Roubini:

It is pathetic that Congress did not consult any of the many professional economists that have presented — many on the RGE Monitor Finance blog forum — alternative plans that were more fair and efficient and less costly ways to resolve this crisis.

Last week, Hank Paulson — who bears responsibility for the crisis in numerous ways — demanded that $700 billion be transferred to him in order to purchase toxic assets from his Wall St. friends, and while there was much howling of outrage in many quarters, no other framework was ever considered.

(3) Public opinion is largely ignored, as always, and public anger is placated through illusory, symbolic and largely meaningless concessions. Much is being made over the allegedly strong oversight provisions to limit the Treasury Secretary’s power, accomplished through the creation of two oversight panels.

“During its weeklong deliberations, Congress made many changes to the Bush administration’s original proposal to bail out the financial industry, but one overarching aspect of the initial plan that remains is the vast discretion it gives to the Treasury secretary.”

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Loan Titans Paid McCain Adviser Nearly $2 Million

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John McCain, along with campaign manager Rick Davis, and Lindsey Graham.

Senator John McCain’s campaign manager was paid more than $30,000 a month for five years as president of an advocacy group set up by the mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to defend them against stricter regulations, current and former officials say.Mr. McCain, the Republican candidate for president, has recently begun campaigning as a critic of the two companies and the lobbying army that helped them evade greater regulation as they began buying riskier mortgages with implicit federal backing. He and his Democratic rival, Senator Barack Obama, have donors and advisers who are tied to the companies.

But last week the McCain campaign stepped up a running battle of guilt by association when it began broadcasting commercials trying to link Mr. Obama directly to the government bailout of the mortgage giants this month by charging that he takes advice from Fannie Mae’s former chief executive, Franklin Raines, an assertion both Mr. Raines and the Obama campaign dispute.

Incensed by the advertisements, several current and former executives of the companies came forward to discuss the role that Rick Davis, Mr. McCain’s campaign manager and longtime adviser, played in helping Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac beat back regulatory challenges when he served as president of their advocacy group, the Homeownership Alliance, formed in the summer of 2000. Some who came forward were Democrats, but Republicans, speaking on the condition of anonymity, confirmed their descriptions.

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Also from Truthout: Taxpayers, Congress Push Back Against Bailout

Push back against the massive $700 billion Wall Street bailout proposal has come hard and fast from members of Congress on both sides of the aisle.

Also, from the American Prospect: Paulson’s Folly by Robert Kuttner (just excellent):

The current Wall Street rescue plan has some serious failings. Will congressional Democrats (and Republicans) stand up to the treasury secretary?

Here is the solution he offers:

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