Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Plunge Protection Team Speaks

The President’s Working Group on Financial Markets, a.k.a., The Plunge Protection Team, issued a statement earlier this week detailing all the tools various government agencies have to "battle" [Read:Muck up.] the financial crisis. Most of the details will be familiar to those closely following government activities over recent weeks. One sentence did catch my eye though (My emphasis):

The new legislation adds broad, flexible authorities to allow Treasury to buy troubled assets and provide guarantees, and address capital raising. The new legislation also enables Treasury to directly strengthen the balance sheet of individual institutions.
This sounds an awful lot like the Treasury has the authority to pump money into any company in the country. The only thing that is preventing me from jumping up and down and sounding all the alarm bells on this sentence is that it is followed in the same paragraph by this sentence:

These authorities allow Treasury to act to remove some of the uncertainty regarding financial strength, and provide financial institutions with greater operating flexibility and enhance their ability to raise additional capital in the private marketplace.
This sentence clearly relates just to financial institutions. Is this a case of a poorly constructed paragraph and should this sentence relate back and modify the earlier sentence? I don't know. I am in the process of getting a clarification from the Treasury and I will post an update once I have their response.

The entire PPT statement is here.

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