Of Stocks and Bailouts

My eyes have been pretty much glued to Google Finance for the last two days, what with the biggest stock drop since 9/11 and all. It’s interesting to watch pan out… I’m not incredibly pessimistic about things in the long term, but it makes me wonder how much our economy will change in terms of who pulls the strings.

Merrill Lynch got really lucky and was bought out by Bank of America, saving them from bankruptcy or a federal bailout. Bank of America’s been doing OK, but I have to wonder what will happen when they grow so big that the federal government can’t afford for them to fail. Will they get bailed out? At what cost?

I noticed that my bank, Wells Fargo, has done pretty well through all of this. Word is that they’re much more conservative in their commercial banking and mortgage operations, and didn’t bring financial hell upon themselves because they weren’t giving out crap mortgages in the first place.

More disturbing to me is how the Fed will be bailing out AIG, the country’s largest insurance company, and taking an 80% ownership stake in the company. This means that the federal government will own the country’s largest insurer. While I don’t completely subscribe to laissez-faire economics and politics, this definitely seems a bit off. Let me get this straight: our government is buying the biggest parts of the so-called “free-market” at the same time that it takes out huge deficit-spending loans from China to finance its prolonged occupation in a country that has its own budget surplus.
Yes. That most certainly makes sense. Now if you would please excuse me while I go wring out this towel that’s dripping with sarcasm.

I’m not opposed to socialized government ownership of things. But with how our government is handling the economy in a system that’s designed to minimize government interference in such things, it makes me think twice about putting the same people in charge of more stuff. (side note: Bush and McCain are still plugging our economy’s resilience and strength. Hmmmm…)