The US treasury secretary, Henry Paulson, was on FOX News Sunday today. He was trying to justify his proposed $700-billion bailout of financial institutions. His justification was anything but comforting.
For example, he said that the intent of the bailout is to "minimize risk" to the American taxpayer. Yet his approach to doing so is to purchase only what he called "illiquid assets" from the financial institutions who hold them. "Illiquid assets" is just another way of saying "worthless securities." How could there be anything of higher risk from a fiscal perspective than this?
He went on to say that he's taking this action to "avoid failure." Yet Paulson's approach to avoiding failure is to buy $700-billion worth of failed mortgages. That doesn't sound like avoiding failure. It sounds more like charting a course directly to failure and turning up the screws to full speed.
If Paulson wants to instill confidence in the American people about how he's handling this financial situation, he's going about it all wrong.