Monday, September 29, 2008

You know, I am starting to get REALLY worried about this financial mess.

It’s beginning to look like one of those domino things you set up as a kid, where you push on the one at the end and it eventually causes every single domino set on its edge to tumble down. Oh, it was pretty while it was all in motion, but when it was all over, you were left with quite a mess that took a while to clean up.

If Paul Krugman is saying stuff like this, we all better hope that someone intelligent does something intelligent very soon.

The question now is whether these moves are too little, too late. I don't think so, but it will be very alarming if this weekend rolls by without a credible announcement of a new financial rescue plan, involving not just the United States but all the major players.

Why do we need international cooperation? Because we have a globalized financial system in which a crisis that began with a bubble in Florida condos and California McMansions has caused monetary catastrophe in Iceland. We're all in this together, and need a shared solution.

Why this weekend? Because there happen to be two big meetings taking place in Washington: a meeting of top financial officials from the major advanced nations on Friday, then the annual International Monetary Fund/World Bank meeting on Saturday and Sunday.

If these meetings end without at least an agreement in principle on a global rescue plan -- if everyone goes home with nothing more than vague assertions that they intend to stay on top of the situation -- a golden opportunity will have been missed, and the downward spiral could easily get even worse.

What should be done? The United States and Europe should just say "Yes, Prime Minister." The British plan isn't perfect, but there's widespread agreement among economists that it offers by far the best available template for a broader rescue effort.

And the time to act is now. You may think that things can't get any worse -- but they can, and if nothing is done in the next few days, they will.

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