Thursday, February 12, 2009

Compare and contrast

Warren Mosler on the awful Obama/Geithner plan:
Seems much of the latest proposal is designed to attract private capital by offering investors a sufficiently high level of profit.

This directs income to those with financial capital, who now look to be the main beneficiaries of the new administration.
Compare and contrast with John Hempton
Asset prices are way down – this crash might be the investment opportunity of a lifetime – and I have a smorgasboard of assets to chose from on which I will not lose money over the long term – indeed on which I might make 5% per annum.

I am just thrilled.

So how are those assets really? Underpriced but hardly exciting. To be exciting they have to be insanely underpriced. There are a few insanely underpriced assets out there, but John Paulson (Paulson funds) won’t tell you what they are. And even then they are not that exciting.

No – to be exciting you need to borrow against them. You need to be able to use leverage. Cheap leverage. Lots of leverage. And it can’t be margin loans or the like – because the asset prices are so volatile that your funding might go away.

But – with permanent cheap funding at government rates it should be profitable to buy those assets. Seven to one levered at government rates (which are a couple of percent) the returns will be spectacular.

So if the Geithner plan is to attract say one hundred and fifty billion of private risk capital and allow it permanent and secure access to say a trillion dollars of government money at a government rates then hey – I am in. (I would require the interest rate risk be matched too.)

It would be a pretty big gift from the government – as nobody – a good bank or a bad bank – can borrow at the same (extraordinarily low) rate as the US Treasury. But as a plan it might just work. And because 150 billion of real private spondulicks is at risk there are some pretty strong incentives for the private sector manager to get it right.
Change we can believe in!


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