Has Gordon Brown, the British prime minister, saved the world financial system? O.K., the question is premature — we still don’t know the exact shape of the planned financial rescues in Europe or for that matter the United States, let alone whether they’ll really work. What we do know, however, is that Mr. Brown and Alistair Darling, the chancellor of the Exchequer (equivalent to our Treasury secretary), have defined the character of the worldwide rescue effort, with other wealthy nations playing catch-up. — Paul Krugman, New York Times
Designing the TARP. Now that Hank Paulson has recognised that the troubled asset relief programme is best used to recapitalise the banking system, it is important to spell out exactly how it should be done. Since it was not part of the Treasury secretary’s original approach, there is a real danger that the scheme will not be properly structured and will not achieve its objective. With financial markets on the brink of meltdown it is vital to make the prospects of a successful recapitalisation clearly visible. This is how Tarp ought to work. — George Soros, Financial Times
July 9, 1932 was a day Wall Street would never wish to relive. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 41.63, down 91% from its level exactly three years earlier. Total trading volume that day was a meager 235,000 shares. “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime,” was one of the top songs of the year. Investors everywhere winced with the pain of recognition at the patter of comedian Eddie Cantor, who sneered that his broker had told him “to buy this stock for my old age. It worked wonderfully. Within a week I was an old man!” — Wall Street Journal
Three rules that will help protect you from the economic meltdown. The ongoing market mayhem reminds me of the character Theodore “Hickey” Hickman in Eugene O’Neill’s 1939 classic play “The Iceman Cometh.” Hickey, an alcoholic salesman, returns to his favorite New York saloon of misbegotten souls to preach an odd form of salvation. He is sober, yet profoundly troubled. Normally a buoyant spirit, telling bawdy stories and buying drinks for the house, he exhorts his comrades to kill “tomorrow dreams which keep you from making peace with yourself.” The stock market, which will eventually recognize that many companies are still profitable, is like a crazed Hickey, telling us what we need to know — and don’t want to hear. It’s a time for reckoning after more than $25 trillion has evaporated from global equities this year. — Bloomberg
Get Crikey FREE to your inbox every weekday morning with the Crikey Worm.
There is a silver lining. Some of us — especially those under 60 — have always wondered what it would be like to live through the kind of epochal event one reads about in books. Well, this is it. We’re now living history, suffering one of the greatest financial panics of all time. It compares with the big ones — 1907, 1929 — and we cannot yet know its full consequences for the financial system, the economy or society as a whole. I’m betting that, in the end, the world’s governments will win this battle against fear. — Newsweek