Friday, July 11, 2008

...while you were out...

The Powers that do Be were definitely caught between a rock and a hard place today. And I'm not referring to Long Island Sound.

I mean, how do you tell the world, "err, one of the largest bank failures in history just happened", when the world already has its finger on the "sell" key, and its eyes on the Bloomberg for "Fannie and Freddie" rumors?

Well, if you're the Powers that do Be, you wait until Friday at 6:59 pm, when nobody can do anything about it, even if they did get the news before arriving at the Hamptons or the satellites of Greenwich.
Nobody that is, except those who -- and this is the upside -- have the most at stake and will likely have the coolest heads. The frenzied masses (including that segment of them that hangs in the Hamptons and Greenwich) have been put on ice and, as humiliating as it might be it is, as I said, the upside. Because... would have been sheer mayhem had the news broken during market hours, as illiquid as markets are during the dog days, and as keenly tuned as all ears are for the final note of this measure of musical chairs (which, to most, is but an echo...).

Not that the demise of IndyMac took anyone by surprise, but FDIC storm troopers in a bank makes for a powerful headline, especially in a skittish market.

Consider former Treasury Secretary John Snow's comments on the financially suicidal "management" of Fannie and Freddie under a previous administration that history is slowly coming to associate with such notoriety: "the business model they were using was really the model of a hedge fund."
Nothing scandalous about being a hedge fund. Unless you're a "Government Sponsored Enterprise," and you borrow billions of dollars a week at a whisker above government rates, because everyone understands you are, implictly, backed by the full faith and credit of said government. Then it's a scandal -- and a "moral hazard" -- to be a hedge fund.

There were already too many dangerous headlines scrolling around. Better to wait until after the doors are shut to drop the IndyMac bombshell. In the rough-and-tumble of life, sometimes the best decision is the least-worst decision.

Stay tuned to your WSJ Online or Bloomberg this weekend...Monday promises to be full of window dressing and damage control.

[got the tip here.]

last edit 7/13/08 @ 12:13 am


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