Vanishing Economic Plans

If someone had spent hours writing it as a comedy script, they couldn’t have done better.  Not that it is funny exactly, it seems more like tragedy today, but I am sure it will all seem very funny someday.  Isn’t that how true comedy works?  The jokes that seem funny right away are just slapstick, like the slipping off banana peel ones (unless, of course, you are the one slipping, then it’s tragic).

I wasn’t expecting comedy when I canceled all my evening plans to watch Obama’s press conference last evening.  Not that my evening plans were anything much, they mostly consist of libraries and groceries.  But anyway, cancel my plans I did, and sat through the Professor patiently explain credit crises and asset bubbles in words of three syllables.  Of course, each mini-speech took about seven minutes, but then what do you expect when you elect a sometime Professor as President?  He probably lectures to his colleagues each day too.

But you must admit, if you haven’t fallen asleep, you’ll find his speeches interesting.  And he does come across as someone who really understands what he is talking about.  Which is not something you can say with conviction about the predecessor.

Anyway, I did manage to stay awake throughout his speech.  And I found that every other minute, he was dropping hints about what a bombshell Tim Geithner was going to throw on us tomorrow – a Plan that would set everything right.  A Plan, no doubt, to end All Plans.

I was all excited that I would now have some real action about the economic crisis.  Apparently Tim Geithner was going to make a momentous announcement the next day, much more important than the Second Coming.   We were going to have a New Deal, or at least a Newer Deal, or an Old Deal-that has-been-refurbished-and-is-as-good-as-new.  History was going to be Created.

Even R looked impressed and predicted that stocks would rise the next morning.

Of course, I did notice that Obama refused to disclose any details of the Geithner Plan, but I was willing to wait another day with bated breath.

So today morning I spent hours watching CNBC.  I even willingly sat through Dodd’s speech, which seemed to be even longer than Obama’s,  while waiting for Geithner.

And what does dear Tim say after all this?  He talks about how he has started a new website. Then he talks about a “public-private investment fund”, whatever that means.  You mean a public company that behaves like it is answerable to only a few people? Don’t we already have many of those ?

Well, anyway, I kept waiting for Geithner to reveal his Plan.  He seemed to be making a fine speech without saying anything, but no doubt he was just building up the suspense.  But perhaps he lingered too long in the build-up.  After he finished advertising his new website, he must have ran out of TV time, for he never got around to talking  about the Plan.

I could see the markets suffering a cardiac arrest even as he was speaking.  Where was the Plan? Did he forget a few pages of his speech? Perhaps they dropped in the car? Or did he get stage fright and forget his lines?

Thankfully, the markets didn’t completely collapse  (I mean, what’s a mere 380 points?) No doubt, because it was a sunny day in New York.  Or maybe because the markets have now become used to getting heart attacks.  After you get more than a half-dozen heart attacks, I suspect you get used to them.  Don’t ask me, I don’t want to know.

R is now very nervous, and talks about selling all our investments and rushing back to India.

The folks at CNBC are more hopeful.  No doubt something came up between yesterday evening and today morning, they think.  It must be the only reason.  Maybe they suddenly realized they hadn’t finalized all the details of the public-private investment fund yet.  Or any of it.  You know, something.

I have a better idea.  I think Tim Geithner and Obama were trying out a new talent – comedy.   We know Obama can make great speeches, that he can dance and play basketball (hopefully, not simultaneously) but did you know he has a talent for practical jokes?

Now we know.

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6 thoughts on “Vanishing Economic Plans

  1. Went thru the transcript of the speech after reading ur post. This is a chap who took his time to realize he owes back taxes. Seems to have taken his time understanding what has happened so far as well.

    Sounded like US govt is going to seek private funding to provide capital to banks, in the end though. But no mention of where the money is going to come from. Wonder Warren Buffet is listening. Though not even he can do much abt it.

    Where will the money come from? Where it always has, of course – whoever buys the Treasuries. We are not at all unwilling to let non-Americans buy our bonds, you know 😉

  2. Ah, the art of speaking a lot without saying anything at all! It is called ‘being a politician in office’.

    Someone on Twitter was saying he is heart-broken Obama is beginning to look like just another politician. A very old joke on advertising and the real job comes to mind.

    Yes, I am only surprised that people are surprised about Obama. I was a little surprised, though, to find that Geithner also had it in him to be a good politician.

  3. Thankfully I was away on a very interesting assignment and was not at home to put myself through the torture of watching the comedians at work (play?). Really, I am fed up now, and expected no more or no less than what was delivered. A lot of hot air.

    Could fill several balloons, no doubt. I wonder if the people in D.C. are experiencing a milder winter?

  4. The guy is not even a month old in the office. I think you should give him some time. It is not like he is deliberately trying to screw around with people. He is trying to do whatever he can (not that I personally saw what he was doing) and the truth of this matter is, nothing is going to happen in 1 day/1 instant. It takes time to revive a collapsed building and during this time what matters for people is to trust and have hope, not just react and throw in the towel every time, panic or write blog posts.
    The problem with people is that they want results instantly, without any work, without waiting for anything patiently. In the moment of panic, everyone is likely to make a bad decision and everyone is likely to criticize a plan as a bad plan. I am not saying that Obama has a stupendous plan in his hand, I am just saying that the previous guy rolled around for 8 years in the office trying different things and here is a man, less than a month, making his first ever attempt and the thing that people do is Criticize, panic or even write it off as Comedy.
    PS: I wrote this in a hurry, I have no malice intended at anyone or yourself, just that I would be happier if people are patient and not show a media-like Knee Jerk reactions. I am Sorry, if the comment doesn’t look coherent, but I hope you will get the idea of what I tried to say.

    I am sure a lot of what you say is right. But when you call all the reporters and say you’re going to give a big speech about a Plan, and your boss calls more reporters the previous evening and talks a lot about how you are going to unveil a Plan. and when your website says that in your speech, you HAVE unveiled a “comprehensive plan”, shouldn’t you, er, talk about it? Well, I suppose it was too much to expect 😦

  5. I felt exactly the same way…there was such a huge buildup on all news channels that this was going to be something that would change everything, and in the end turned out to be just a silly little speech, with no real plan.

  6. Lekhni:

    Geithner, even though not a real politician is a political appointee, a role succeeding at which requires many of the same qualities. Same difference. 🙂

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