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by Joseph E. Stiglitz
Saturday, Mar. 14, 2009 at 10:31 AM
"The problem with America's banks is not just one of liquidity. Years of reckless behavior, including bad lending and gambling with derivatives, have left them, in effect, bankrupt."
"there needs to be an orderly plan for disposing of the old bad assets. There is no magic in moving them around from one owner to another. In some countries, government agencies (often hiring private subcontractors) have done a good job of selling off the assets. Other countries (including some hit in the East Asia crisis a decade ago) have had an unfortunate experience, bringing in investment banks and hedge funds to dispose of their assets. These institutions simply held them for the short time it took the economy to recover and made a huge capital gain at the expense of the country's taxpayers. To add insult to injury, some even took advantage of tax havens to avoid paying taxes on those huge profits. These experiences suggest caution in turning to hedge funds and other investment firms.
Every downturn comes to an end. Eventually we will be able to sell the restructured banks at a good price--though, one hopes, not one based on the irrational exuberant expectation of another financial bubble. The notion that we will make a profit from the bailouts--which the financial sector tried to convince us were "investments"--seems to have dropped from public discourse. But at least we can use the proceeds of the eventual sale of the restructured banks to pay down the huge deficit that this financial debacle will have brought onto our nation."
About Joseph E.Stiglitz
Joseph E. Stiglitz is University Professor at Columbia University. He received the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2001 for research on the economics of information. Most recently, he is the co-author, with Linda Bilmes, of The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Costs of the Iraq Conflict.
to read Joseph E. Stiglitz' article published in: The Nation, March 4, 2009, visit
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