Winston Churchill, a long-standing friend of the USA, once irritably but acutely observed that ‘one can rely on America to get to the right conclusion, when all other options have been exhausted’. So, hopefully, it will prove with the financial crisis.
Tonight, Bloomberg and the New York Times are reporting that US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson ‘is planning to buy stakes in a wide range of banks within weeks, as the credit freeze increasingly threatens to tip the U.S. economy into a deep recession’. The cost being talked is $200 – 300bn.
This has to be the right thing to do, via the purchase of preference shares. But the sum talked sounds too little to the blog. After all, the UK government is investing at least $87bn in its bank purchases, in a much smaller economy.
The purchases also need to happen much more quickly than ‘within weeks’. The US$ has just slipped below ¥100: $1, and as the blog noted last November, any sustained fall below this level ‘would take us into uncharted water’, and create the potential to add a currency crisis to the banking and housing crises already underway.