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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Commenting on Drum again in one day

Drum argues that the US public will have to eat the toxic assets in any case and that Bank shares are basically worthless so who cares.

Now, it's true that if we nationalize we'd wipe out the shareholders of the bad banks. But although that's the right thing to do, it's also pretty small potatoes since stock prices have dropped so far that shareholders in bad banks have virtually no equity left at this point. (Sweden didn't even bother trying to wipe out shareholders when they nationalized Nordbanken in 1992, for example. They just bought out the minority shareholders at the highly depressed market price.) What's more, a lot of those shareholders are mutual funds and pension funds anyway. The amount of bankster wealth that would be wiped out in a nationalization is probably pretty small.

Look the aim is not to keep the banks going with worthless shares forever OK.
Shares are worth nothing now, but, if the Geithner plan works, they will be worth a lot. So will shares in nationalized banks. But if we nationalize the value shares which are actually worth something will go into the Treasury. Geithner's plan is not to keep zombie banks staggering around forever. If shareholders are not wiped out and if the plan works as promised, they will end up with a huge amount of money given to them out of your tax dollars.

Also, I know this is so totally 2 days ago, but remember that little dust up about AIG bonuses ? The issue is not the shareholders; they lost long ago. It is the managers. Will they be able to pay themselves £11 million a year (and claim it is $1 million ?). Will they be masters of the universe or subordinates of the subordinates of Geithner ?

CEO compensation is a tiny amount of money, even in banking. Total compensation over $250,000/yr for all employees is not. That's the money Atrios is after.

Managers at banks don't want banks to be nationalized. Geithner is willing to give hedge fund managers tens of billions of US dollars to protect the sacred power of the Bank managers who messed up.

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