Friday, July 24, 2009

Mark to market the government’s bail-out efforts

In order to bring some transparency to what the government is doing in bailouts it should sell in the market, at 100% of nominal value, a portion of the instruments they have received in return for their bailout funds; and compensate any differences in the market value of these instruments with a tax-credit. How would it work?

Let us say the government has received $100 in shares of GM. If these shares are worth that amount the government would get their money back immediately but, if not, buyers would ask to receive a tax credit. If the market only asks for a 10% tax credit, meaning $10 in tax credit to purchase the GM shares for $100 then the government is not doing so bad but, if the market asks for 90% in tax credits, then clearly the government is pouring money down the drain.

That would certainly pressure the government into doing better. Problem though is that most probably government would never dare to have their own actions marked to market that way.