Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Once you have lost Wall Street, what else is there left to lose?

Wall Street investment banker Ken Miller says Wall Street does not like this war at Tom Paine.
But despite Wall Street's golden moment, the problem of risk and uncertainty has reasserted itself in an unexpected way. The very unpopularity of the Bush Administration is threatening to create a seismic shock to the system. In financial circles, the word "incompetent" is now frequently applied to both Bush's foreign and domestic policies. The fiscal profligacy in violation of traditional Republican principles, two weak Treasury Secretaries and the recent loss of Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan's steady hand have begun to take their toll, creating a flight to quality government bonds even as interest rates rise and the dollar weakens.

Wall Streeters now fall mainly into two camps: Those who think the war in Iraq was itself a horrible mistake and those who think it could have been a good choice but was bungled in the execution. It is not the $800 billion the Iraq War is projected to cost that drives us nuts. A $13 trillion economy can make adjustments. But the troop drawdown and failure to finish the job in Afghanistan, the bad information in the run-up to the Iraq invasion, the ever-changing rationales, the failure to develop realistic scenarios after the collapse of Saddam Hussein and the chronic bloodletting without an exit plan -- these smack of the type of performance that, in the brutal meritocracy of the Street, would cost us our jobs.


And Wall Street doesn't like to hear about "the long run." We mark to market every day. It may be that in a few years, a securities position will be worth five times what we paid today, but we are still obliged to carry it on our books for what someone will really pay for it now. The Iraq War is now increasingly seen as an ideologically based experiment, one that departed radically from traditional U.S. foreign policy. Leslie Gelb, former head of the Council on Foreign Relations, has one plan for extrication, Hillary Clinton another. But George W. Bush, who struggles to admit even the smallest error, is promoting a stay-the-course program that draws on a reservoir of trust, a pool of political capital that simply doesn't exist.

With our dollars piling up overseas and the world economy depending on foreigners' confidence in our model, it is going to be hard for us to hold our breath for two and a half years. The damage to our brand under this management has been severe, and heretofore the cost has been neither paid nor calculated. When the markets finally render their judgment for this war and this Administration, there is likely to be a very hard landing.

When a Republican Administration loses the confidence of Wall Street, there isn’t much left to lose except for the support of a few hardcore fanatics and myopic dreamers.

Read the whole thing; it’s short.


At 12:37 AM, Blogger Renegade Eye said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 12:37 AM, Blogger Renegade Eye said...

Very interesting post.

In addition what is not mentioned, is competition with China and India, over resources.

At 4:14 AM, Blogger Lynn said...

renegade eye,

Good point. Those two countries are cutting their own deals, and it isn't costing them an arma and a leg to do it.


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