Sorry. Had to abandon my post last week to care for an aged ancestor. (She’s doing much better. Thanks for asking.) This very modest offering is just to get my hand back in.
One normally doesn’t look to a New York Times story for bright writing. But I thought Timesman Peter S. Goodman had two great metaphors in his Page 1 explainer of the big federal bailout of the financial system Sunday. In case you missed them:
Of course we would desperately like to have some idea how much this is eventually going to cost the taxpayers, but, as Goodman wrote:
“Under a proposal circulating Saturday, the Treasury could spend as much as $700 billion to buy mortgage-linked investments, then sell what it can as it works out the messy details of the loans. But no one really knows what this cosmically complex web of finance will be worth, making the final price tag for the taxpayer unknowable. One may just as well try to predict the weather three years from Tuesday.
(I also appreciate it when a journalist acknowledges that something is unknowable, as are so many things we’d really like to know.)
Goodman’s second bon mot went like this:
The headlines proclaim that the taxpayer now owns the mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, along with the liabilities of a mysterious colossus called the American Insurance Group, which, as it happens, insures against corporate defaults. Much like the human appendix, these were organs whose existence was only dimly evident to many until the pain began.
Wish I’d written either of those clever things.