Although the problems with the financial markets are fundamental, some of the resistance to unclogging the credit markets is the absence of confidence, in the future and in our leaders.
There is one simple, pervasive fact that cannot be ignored: no one trusts anything George Bush says. He has lied too often, has been wrong too often, and has screwed up the country too much, to have even a sliver of credibility left. Even his Wall Street pals who continue to pay lipservice to Bush at evening cocktail parties, march into work the next day and do not express the same confidence in Bush with their investments. Money talks.
On November 4, 2008, someone will win a majority of the vote. Almost by definition, that person will have nearly 2.5 times the support of George Bush's 22%.
During the Great Depression, new Presidents took office in March. From November to March, Franklin Roosevelt could not cooperate with Herbert Hoover, for fear of his credibility being dragged down at the same time his flexibility would by limited by the association with a disgraced President. FDR realized that his credibility would be as important as his policies in digging the US out of the mess that had been dumped into his lap.
Today, new Presidents take office on January 20, 10 weeks after the general election. For the same reason, whomever is elected cannot act in concert with George Bush because he needs to retain the trust people have just bestowed upon him.
I do not believe we have 10 weeks to wait while a disgraced lame-duck prances through the waning days of his disastrous presidency. If Bush were a true patriot, he would allow the rest of us some chance for a restoration of trust and confidence by going.
Indeed, just the announcement that they will be leaving should increase the market's confidence.
It would be George Bush's only positive legacy, and we would have something to thank him for. Indeed, he could, as he said he wants to, get an early start on his post-Presidency goal of "replenishing the ole' coffers."
Here's how it could be accomplished.
1. Dick Cheney resigns on November 13th, and George Bush appoints the winner of the November 4th election to be Vice-President.
2. Upon Congressional approval of that choice, Bush resigns on November 14th, and the newly-installed Vice-President gets sworn in as President.
3. The new President appoints his running mate to the Vice-Presidency, and Congress approves.
The cabinet would be asked to remain, and work with the new team to transition as quickly as possible to a new economic team. Yes, it would be better if we had time for the winner to put together his government in the next 10 weeks. But, we don't.
For the Bush administration, there is really only one question left: "How long, George Bush, will you abuse our patience?"*
*[Borrowed from Cicero's: "How long, Cataline, will you abuse our patience?"].