Friday, April 4, 2008

Bear Stearns Fallout continues

Democrats on the Senate Banking Committee questioned why the Fed was willing to put such a large amount of money at risk to protect Wall Street while as many as 3 million homeowners are facing the risk of defaulting on their mortgages with the administration balking at greater efforts to help them.

"Was this a justified rescue to prevent a systemic collapse of financial markets or a $30 billion taxpayer bailout for a Wall Street firm while people on Main Street struggle to pay their mortgages?" Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd asked Bernanke and the other witnesses.

Bernanke said that government's effort was not a bailout for Bear Stearns shareholders, who will suffer big losses, but an effort to protect the financial system and ultimately the entire economy, which could have faced severe consequences from a Bear Stearns bankruptcy.

"The adverse impact of a default would not have been confined to the financial system but would have been felt broadly in the real economy through its effect on asset values and credit availability," said Bernanke. On Wednesday, Bernanke had for the first time raised the possibility that the current economic troubles could push the country into a recession.

It is good to see that the questions keep on coming.

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