Dean Baker suggests second opinions on the Geithner strategy….Stiglitz team and Johnson team:
The prospect of even an arranged bankruptcy of a major bank will undoubtedly shake up markets, but many safeguards have been put in place since the Lehman collapse. If the stock market goes down for a few weeks or months, who cares? Running the economy to serve the stock market is a sure recipe for disaster; if President Obama fixes the economy, the stock market will do just fine in the long run.
Anyhow, the Geithner crew insists that there are no alternatives to his plan; we have to just keep giving hundreds of billions of dollars to the banks. Perhaps Geithner is right. But before we throw such huge sums away, further enriching the bankers who wrecked the economy, maybe we should get a second opinion.
Suppose that Congress appropriated a modest chunk of money to have independent economists put together teams to construct alternative plans. Why not give M.I.T. professor Simon Johnson, a former chief economist of the IMF, $5 million to hire a crew to outline his preferred path? Congress could give Joe Stiglitz, a Nobel Prize winner and one-time chief economist to President Clinton, who is also a harsh critic of the Geithner plan, a similar sum to put together his own team.
These economists could develop their best plans and put them out for public consumption. Geithner’s crew can then tell us why their plans are unworkable and we must instead hand over the money to banks.
Given how much money Geithner wants to spend – putting it in the hands of the folks that brought on this economic crisis – it would seem appropriate to first examine all the alternatives. After all, we could find out what our options are in this case for the price of just a few A.I.G. executive bonuses. That has to be a good deal in anyone’s book.