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Gordon Brown Does Good

It's nice to see.

Barry Eichengreen says: good job. Now let's see coordinated banking-sector recapitalization and coordinated fiscal stimulus alongside the coordinated rate reduction we saw this morning.

Here's Paul Krugman on Gordon Brown:

Paul Krugman: Readers ask what I think should be done about the financial crisis. The answer is, what Gordon Brown in doing in Britain: a bailout, yes, but one that gives the government an ownership stake in the bailed-out institutions. That plus a serious fiscal stimulus plan that includes emergency aid to state and local government.

The Brown plan, by the way, is 50 billion pounds; scaled by GDP, that would be the equivalent of a $500 billion plan here....

[M]y reading of the TARP as passed is that thanks to the equity participation provisions, it could be converted into a version of the Brown plan at the Treasury secretary’s discretion; let’s hope that he does so discrete, or something like that, as soon as possible. (Brad DeLong seems to agree; the Brown plan is a close relative of the Elmendorf plan.) Meanwhile, John McCain’s bailout plan manages to take everything that’s wrong with the Paulson plan and make it worse....

Update: Starting already? Justin Fox catches something in Paulson’s press conference today:

Did anybody else notice that when Hank Paulson was describing in his press conference today what the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act enables Treasury to do, the first thing he listed was “to inject capital into financial institutions”?

That wasn’t how Treasury initially advertised its Troubled Asset Relief Program. It was sold as a way to get the market for mortgage securities moving (or, to use the jargon, liquid). Lots of academic economists objected that liquidity wasn’t the problem, it was insolvency. What Treasury needed to do was recapitalize financial institutions and take equity stakes in return.


None of the people asking questions at the press conference really seemed to pick up on this, of course (&%%$# Washington journalists!). Along with Paulson’s affirmation that the FDIC was going to use its “systemic risk” powers to protect depositors and unsecured creditors “as appropriate,” I take it as one more sign that we’re headed toward a Swedish solution of our banking crisis—recapitalization and temporary nationalization of much of the banking system.