I'm going to try to briefly accomplish in a few paragraphs what it seems to me our government has completely failed to do in this financial crisis.
No, I don't have $700 billion of my own to shell out. But to me, Congress' failure came not today on the House floor, but over the past week as both elected officials and members of the administration failed to translate the crisis into terms that have meaning for everyday Americans.
I've heard the phrases "Main Street" and "Wall Street" a lot, but what I haven't heard is plain explanations of what credit really means and how essential it is to our system of doing business.
If the credit markets should freeze up--which many say is happening and will continue without massive intervention--everyone that borrows money will face a cash crunch. That means companies that take advantage of short-term loans to get by won't be able to buy raw materials or make payroll. Even businesses that don't need short-term capital may defer purchases to preserve capital.
If even banks are having a hard time getting money, what does that say for the small and midsize business? The Wall Street Journal had a story on Monday on how companies like McDonald's may face a squeeze as their franchisees are unable to get loans to purchase or upgrade stores. I suspect that is just one visible example of a growing issue for businesses across the country.
We are stuck trying to move forward with new loans--essentially to keep the economy moving--while dealing with clearly bad ones of the past. While much of the attention has focused on concern over home loans, there are also construction loans and business loans that are at risk of default, risks that grow as those businesses find themselves essentially shut off from getting any new capital, extending the vicious circle.
You don't have to take it from me.
Here's C.H. Low, CEO of social-networking software start-up Orbius and a serial entrepreneur.
"When financial markets don't function well, the ramification is broad," he said in an e-mail interview on Monday. He said he is disappointed that the bailout is so misunderstood. Even the term bailout, he said, is a misnomer.
"This is an asset purchase, not a 100 percent bailout expense to taxpayer," he said. "There is risk but also possibility of making a profit. Government's main function is to do things that private sector cannot handle. This Market Stabilization Bill...is as necessary as having an Armed Forces to defend the country."
Low noted that the main beneficiary is not Wall Street. … Read more