Sunday, February 08, 2009

Summers: Bank Bailout Announcement Delayed until Tuesday

by Calculated Risk on 2/08/2009 11:02:00 AM

From ABC News: 'This Week' Transcript

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me ask about that financial overhaul. Originally, Secretary Geithner was supposed to give that speech tomorrow. Administration officials are telling me it's now more likely on Tuesday?

SUMMERS: Yes, I think there's a desire to keep the focus right now on the economic recovery program, which is so very, very important.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So Tuesday it is.
And on the Stimulus Package:
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me start out by putting up a little chart that shows the House and Senate versions of this stimulus package. Let me show our viewers that right now. The overall cost is about the same, the House $820 billion, Senate $827 billion, but the composition different. The Senate has about $100 billion more in tax cuts, but $40 billion less in state aid, $20 billion less in education, $15 billion less in payments to individuals, some other differences.

I know that, when the president was meeting with these moderate Republican senators this week, including Senator Susan Collins of Maine, he told them he endorsed their efforts to scrub the bill of what they called excessive spending. Does that mean the president prefers the Senate version to the House version?

SUMMERS: No, the president feels that, above all, we need a major program enacted very quickly that will create 3 million to 4 million jobs. He believes we need to perfect it in every way we can.

If there are programs that aren't going to serve important purposes, they should be -- they should be eliminated. He certainly believes that. He's open to good ideas from both -- from both sides.

But we're going to have to look at both these bills, assuming the Senate bill passes, as most people expect at this juncture, and craft the best possible approach going forward.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Some of the critics of the Senate bill say that the most important elements have been -- have been brought down. Paul Krugman, writing on his blog this morning, said, "Some of the most effective and most needed parts of the plan have been cut." He's citing especially that $40 billion in state aid.

And he goes on to say that, "My first cut says that the changes to the Senate bill will ensure that we have at least 600,000 fewer Americans employed over the next two years."

SUMMERS: There's no question we need -- we need a large, forthright approach here. There are crucial areas, support for higher education, that are things that are in the House bill that are very, very important to the president.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But will the Senate bill produce fewer jobs?

SUMMERS: There's no question -- no question what we've got to do is go after support for education. And there are huge problems facing state and local governments, and that could lead to a vicious cycle of layoffs, falling home values, lower property taxes, more layoffs. And we've got to prevent that.

So we're going to have to try to come together in the conference. And the president is certainly going to be active in sharing his views as that process -- as that process...
And on the economy:
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me -- let me get to the state of the economy, because some economists have been even more alarming than you are right now.

STEPHANOPOULOS: This week, two economists, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, Janet Yellen, said, "I think we do have the same type of dynamics taking place that do happen in a depression." The managing director of the IMF, Dominique Strauss- Kahn, was quoted in Bloomberg News as saying, "Advanced economies are already in a depression, and the financial crisis may deepen unless the banking system is fixed. The worst cannot be ruled out."

Already in a depression?

SUMMERS: We're in a very serious situation, George. This is worse than any time since the Second World War. It's worse than I think most economists like me ever thought we would see.

But let's remember. In the Depression, the unemployment rate was 25 percent. GDP had fallen in half. We were really in a very different situation than that.

But all of this concern -- the risks of deflation, for example -- points up the importance of acting as aggressively as we can. That's why the president's economic recovery program is so important. That's why it needs to be twinned, as it will be this week, with the financial recovery program directed at shoring up the flow of credit so that people can get the loan to buy a car...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me -- let me ask you about that.

SUMMERS: ... so that we can address the problem which has, frankly, gone unattended for much too long of declining house prices.
I hope Summers understands that house prices are still too high by most measures and need to fall further. On the question of depression, the answer is no, although the Senate appears to be trying for one!