Archive for the ‘Mortgage Crisis’ Category

The Next Financial Bailout

My sources at the Federal Reserve and in the financial markets increasingly expect that Washington is going to have to put up hundreds of billions of dollars more to directly recapitalize troubled banks.
Such a step would be in addition to the $700 billion authorized by Congress last week and could require new congressional appropriations. It would put even greater pressure on the short-term budget deficit and add to uncertainty over the total cost of cleaning up the financial system mess. It could also require new federal legislation, setting up yet another bruising battle on Capitol Hill.

Brother, Can You Spare a Tax Credit?

Let it be written: If the Senate-passed financial services bailout bill turns out to save us from the next Great Depression, we will owe a deep debt of gratitude to… chicken poop. If not, we can simply say the entire proposition turned out to be little more than, well, you know.

The Bailout and Capital Gains Taxes

Whatever its ultimate fate, the $700 billion financial market bailout has me thinking about how events of the past few months have fundamentally changed the nature of economic risk in the U.S. And, that, in turn, raises some interesting questions about capital gains taxes.

The Worst Tax Holiday Idea Ever

We had fun ridiculing the idea of suspending the gasoline tax for the summer, but the gas tax holiday was minor mischief compared with the newest idea for dealing with the financial market meltdown: a two year holiday on capital gains taxes.

The Bailout and the Next President: Getting Real

Barack Obama and John McCain are slowly beginning to get it: For the next President, this week’s financial market meltdown has changed everything.
Suddenly, their grandiose promises of new tax cuts and ambitious spending are sounding more hollow than ever. An $11.3 trillion national debt will do that to you every time.

The Blank Check Bailout

The Bush Administration has asked Congress to write the biggest blank check in the history of the planet. And Congress may very well do it.
The Administration’s proposal requires only semi-annual reports to congressional committees and explicitly exempts any bailout-related actions from judicial review. This has a whiff of the war on terror about it. “We are in a crisis,” the Administration cries, “and you must act now. Do not stop and think. Do not amend. Just approve what we say or we will blame you for what happens next.”

Bad Markets and Deficits

Crumbling financial markets mean more awful news for governments already reeling from an economic slowdown and mortgage foreclosures. The only glimmer of optimism is that the sluggish revenues and rising spending that are around the corner should only be transitory. Assuming the markets and the economy rebound, these fiscal shocks will be a fading memory after a few years.

AIG: Ben Blinked

Just when we thought the bailouts were over, just when Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson insisted failing financial institutions would, like Lehman Brothers, sink or swim on their own, along comes AIG.
Make no mistake, the Wall Street financiers called Bernanke and Paulson’s bluff. After the two men said Washington would not throw taxpayer money into the AIG pot, the big money guys went all in, insisting they would not rescue the rapidly-sinking financial services giant without cash from Washington.

Great Marketing, But Is It Good Tax Policy?

Unlike other credits, the new one is really a 15 year interest-free loan. Qualifying buyers will get a refundable credit of the smaller of 10 percent of their purchase price or $7,500 for homes bought between April 2008 and June 30, 2009. Because they don’t get the credit until they file a tax return—and not when they buy the house—it’s unclear how much the cash windfall will help with down payments—which presumably was the whole idea. And interest-free doesn’t mean free: they must pay the money back to the government over 15 years.

Why Congress' Housing Fix Won't Help Steve and Laura

The Washington pols who are pushing housing legislation should meet my friends Steve and Laura. They are a 30-something couple with a two-year old daughter, and they have been waiting for years to buy a house.