Did Washington Change Anything?
Lawmakers made big moves Tuesday to spark life into the economy and restore health to banks. But will anything really change?
On Tuesday the Senate approved Barack Obama's giant economic stimulus measure. The 61-37 vote by the Senate was a key victory for the president but sets up difficult negotiations with the House, which passed a slightly different version of the bill.
Just three Republicans — Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania — joined 56 Democrats and two independents who favored of the bill.
In the House, the legislation didn't get a single GOP vote.
Also Tuesday Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner outlined how he intended to use the remaining $350 billion of the $700 billion bank bailout program started last fall under President Bush.
In his speech announcing the new bailout plan, Geithner said he wanted "cleaner and stronger" bank balance sheets and would impose tough new standards and use government and private incentives to get the banks lending again. He also announced a new partnership to attract private capital for banks.
However, he failed to provide the Street with specifics on how the government would achieve many of these objectives. And he offered no explanation of how the government intends to assign value to toxic assets.
His speech drew a great deal of criticsm from Wall Street. However Sean Egan, of the ratings agency Egan-Jones was one of the few suporters. He told us, "I think Geithner is on the right road here. He’s learning on the job, have a little patience.”
To see our entire interview with Egan please watch the video.
Thawing Credit Markets
Then, in a related move, the Federal Reserve announced it would expand a program aimed at supporting consumer lending to $1 trillion from $200 billion as part of the Obama administration's initiative to rescue the banking sector.
The moves comes after Chairman Ben Bernanke said that the radical steps already taken by the Fed – most notably dropping the fed funds rate to almost 0% -- were proving to be effective.
He said it’s most apparent in the Libor, or London interbank rate, used among banks for short-term loans – which has dropped substantially. He also said corporate short-term borrowing terms have improved since the Fed entered the commercial paper market.
Additionally, he said a drop in US mortgage rates may help steady the critical housing market.
Clearly the government is putting many programs in place to help jumpstart the economy, but have they really changed anything at all? The Fast Money gang and Sean Egan all agree. The problem didn’t happen overnight and we can’t fix it overnight.
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Trader disclosure: On Feb. 10th, 2009, the following stocks and commodities mentioned or intended to be mentioned on CNBC’s Fast Money were owned by the Fast Money traders; Macke Owns (TM), (SDS), (AAPL), (MS); Adami Owns (AGU), (BTU), (C), (GS), (INTC), (MSFT), (NUE); Seymour Owns (AA), (BAC), (EEM), (FXI), (MOS), (MON); Seymour Is Short (PBR); Seymour's Firm Owns (VIP); Najarian Owns (CAT) Call Spread; Najarian Owns (MT) Calls; Najarian Owns (ENER) Call Spread; Najarian Owns (EEM) Call Spread; Najarian Owns (CHK) Put Spread; Najarian Owns (FCX) & (FCX) Calls; Najarian Owns (GS) Calls; Najarian Owns (GE) Puts; Najarian Owns (GDX) Call Spread; Najarian Owns (MSFT) & (MSFT) Short Calls; Najarian Owns (MS) & (MS) Short Calls; Najarian Owns (MOS) Call Spread