Sunday 12 April 2009

Wrapping the mind around "impossible" realities -- seeking resurrection

Apparently, from what I can gather from this article I've absorbed regarding the bailout and stimulus package in America (and I must admit this was a somewhat daunting though highly educational task)... a grand total of at least $3 trillion thus far, and still rising, has been allocated as bailout/stimulus money by the US Federal Government for the banks, the broader financial sector, and beyond.

That includes, among other things, $1 trillion designated to the 'PPIF' (Public-Private Investment Fund) for buying of bank ‘bad assets’; another $1 trillion to ‘TALF’ (Term Asset Backed Securities Lending Facility) for resurrecting the ‘shadow banking’ system of hedge funds, private equity firms, and the like (i.e. the very same guys who gave us runaway speculation in securitized assets and the excess leveraging and debt run-up that underlies the origins of today’s continuing collapse of the financial system); and another $275 billion to ‘HASP’ (Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan), which will be used primarily to subsidize mortgage lenders, servicers, and investors.

By the way, if you are having trouble like I did getting your mind around what a trillion dollars really looks like, let alone three, here's some visual help on that via a good CNBC slideshow.

Anyway, this detailed and rather pessimistic article, provides quite the analysis. The researcher critiques the three elements of the Obama administration’s bank-finance bailout mentioned above, postulating 1) why the bank bailout is doomed to fail in the long run, 2) why it likely won’t succeed in stabilizing the financial system, and 3) why a totally new kind of restructured banking system is going to be required before the financial system can stabilize and the real economy can halt its accelerating decline.

I wonder what others reading this think of the arguments laid out in this assessment - and whether anyone can point to signs of hope that we can avert another world-wide Depression and overcome this massive "crisis of confidence" - or if this gloomy scenario as described is indeed warranted.

In any case, I'm feeling depressed enough now simply trying to comprehend it all, intellectually - and I'm so glad that I'm not an economist who has to sit and stew in this stuff all day - although it certainly was educational!

One thing I know: I'm still free to exercise some great options - for example, to go out to renew my spirit and gain some balanced perspective by freewheeling my unicycle to worship where today we'll celebrate the reality of The Resurrection of Jesus. Both are realities oft considered "impossible" in the minds of those who only attempt an intellectual encounter! (Therein lies the lesson.) After that I plan to catch part of the National Folk Festival, held here in Canberra over the long Easter weekend each year, where fantastic music always gets made and spirits are sure to soar!

Could it be that it's the intangibles - in the realm of the spirit and what bolsters hope and confidence within the community - that always truly makes the difference?

-Clair Hochstetler

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