Saving Homes Instead of Foolish Investors
The Trickle-Up Bailout
By Jonathan G.S. Koppell and William N. Goetzmann Wednesday, October 1, 2008; A17
The theory underlying the bailout plan stalled in Congress is that rescuing the finance industry will restore market stability and that the benefits will eventually trickle down to average Americans. Thus, solving the subprime mortgage crisis has morphed into a much larger challenge: reassembling the architecture of the financial markets, which seemingly requires giving the Treasury secretary nearly a trillion dollars and extraordinary latitude to pick winners and losers.
There is an easier and more politically palatable fix: Pay off all the delinquent mortgages.
The financial crisis is a liquidity crisis, yes, but it is ultimately a product of homeowner failures to pay. Unless this fundamental problem is fixed, we will continue to see -- and need to treat -- the symptoms. The proposed bailout ignores this. Yet the sum being demanded from taxpayers is almost certainly more than suf…