Should the Fed or the Treasury guarantee  Lehman's troubled assets as part of an emergency sale?


We asked our panel:

Should the Fed or the Treasury guarantee Lehman's troubled assets as part of an emergency sale?

Yes 1
No 11

The Kudlow Caucus Breakdown

Stefan AbramsManaging Partner, Bryden-Abrams Investment Management
Lehman was already attempting to carve these assets out and put them into a new public company, presumably because they do have some value. If Lehman is sold to a third party, the purchase price should reflect an estimate of that value, and thus the Government's guaranty should not be necessary. Those lenders whose funds supported the purchase of these assets should take the haircut.

Joe Battipaglia
Market Strategist, Stifel Nicolaus
The existing Fed window provisions provides an acquirer a longer term workout opportunity against what should be an attractive (cheap) acquisition price.

Jared Bernstein
Senior Economist, Economic Policy Institute
Not until we learn more about the downside risks to allow the firm to fail. Not everybody out there is too big to fail.

Jerry BowyerChief Economist, Benchmark Financial Network
No, non, not, nyet, nein, negative, ne pas, ouk, lo, nope, uh-uh. The legal and political precedent would be horrendous. We’ve moved from lender of last resort function with Bear Stearns (legal, but edgy) to repoing Phony and Fraudy (only possible option after decades of bad policy came due); to an unnecessary and unprecedented direct subsidy from taxpayers of an entity with no implied government backing. If we do this, we will never see the end of it. Better to suffer the temporary disruptions of a troubled sale of Lehman’s assets, then to completely flush the principle of market accountability down the toilet in order to save a few hundred points on the Dow. Just in case I have not been clear. I oppose the proposal.

Vince FarrellSoleil Securities Chief Investment Officer
Absolutely not. Bear was too "interconnected" to fail. Or so we thought. Fannie and Freddie were too big to fail. The system has had time to adjust to the harsh realities of the market place and Wall Street firms should have adjusted their books accordingly. If the Street hasn't accommodated the current environment then another bailout won't convince anyone that harsh measures need to be taken. Our system allows for great success. It must also allow for failure.

Jim LaCampPortfolio Manager, Portfolio Focus, RBC Wealth Management
Co-Host, Opening Bell Radio Show, Biz Radio Network
No. A thousand times no. There simply isn't enough money to keep backstopping everything and everyone. With Apollo 13, failure wasn't an option. On Wall Street it is.

Art LafferFmr. Reagan Economic Advisor
Chief Investment Officer, Laffer Investments
No, but if they can help facilitate a private transaction without bailing them out, that would be wonderful.

Donald L. Luskin Chief Investment Officer, Trend Macrolytics LLC
No -- for two reasons. One, it is not necessary. The Fed's Primary Dealer Credit Facility should be all the guarantee that is needed, and it is already in place for just this kind of contingency. Two, such guarantees create extreme moral hazard. I don't mean the long-term risk that financial firms will consider themselves too big to fail, and thus will act foolishly (surely Bear Stearns and Fan/Fred now don't see themselves as having profited by their stupidity, bail out or no bail out). I mean that the competitors to such firms can organize speculative attacks designed to put competitors out of business and acquire their valuable assets with a government subsidy. I call it "your speculative attacks dollars at work."

Steve MooreSr. Economics Writer, The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board
No more bail outs.

James Pethokoukis
Sr. Writer, U.S. News & World Report (Money & Business)
Right now the Bailout Bunch are offering up a Domino Theory of Finance to justify bailout/guarantees/intervention: The interconnectedness of financial systems means there is incredible systemic risk from financial failure. I am not willing to risky a financial meltdown in an effort to prove them wrong or make a point about free markets. But in the end, most -- though not all -- roads lead back to Uncle Sam in the creation of this mess. Without reform, these short run efforts create more financial fragility.

Robert Reich
Former Labor Secretary
Professor of Public Policy, UC Berkeley
It's time to stop bailing out Wall Street. Socialized capitalism doesn't work.

Gary Shilling
A. Gary Shilling & Co. President
The bailout of Bear Stearns may have been necessary to prevent wide-spread financial collapse, but since then Lehman's problems have been widely known. A Treasury or Fed bailout of Lehman creates tremendous moral hazard and encourages imprudent risk taking with an attitude of heads I win, tails the government bails me out.