Friday, April 18, 2008

LTTE: Why are we pawning our offspring's future?

The following letter to the editor appeared in the April 12-13, 2008 weekend edition of the Financial Times on page 6.

Sir, I am living a rather ordinary sort of life. But when I read the April 10 edition of the FT I felt transported to Wonderland. On the first page, I read that the bankers are claiming an epiphany. They will be good boys from now on, holding to higher standards of lending probity and reasonable pay.

Further down the page a headline claimed higher oil prices seemed likely to induce the Federal Reserve to cut rates. No inflation-fighting here. Rather, Ben Bernanke, the Fed chairman, wants to promote more borrowing and spending to keep the decrepit US economy out of the grave. Never mind that it is excess household debt that has helped propel us into today's perilous position.

And, by the way, more debt means less savings, less investment and less economic growth. Does Mr Bernanke think about the effects of all this on his grandchildren? Do we consider what the effect will be on our grandchildren? What kind of society pawns the future of its offspring?

Turning to page two, I read that a panel of banking regulators has endorsed a $300bn-$400bn federal guarantee of refinanced mortgages.

Sheila Bair, chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, considers this will "avoid more dire consequences for all Americans". What dire consequences does she mean? Are they worse than increasing the national debt by more than $300bn? Are the consequences more dire for me who saves in order to weather rainy days such as we are having now courtesy of incompetent regulators who let the credit mess develop under their noses?

- Channing Wagg
Boxborough, MA 01719 US

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