Henry Blodget’s got a great “I read it, so you don’t have to” post on Silicon Alley Insider about he Fed bailout plan. Read it and feel more informed. I was particularly struck by this:
The Treasury has complete discretion over the prices it pays for crap assets (the most important provision in the whole document as far as the taxpayers are concerned). "The Secretary make such purchases at the lowest price that the Secretary determines to be consistent with the purposes of this Act." Translation: If the banks persuade me they won't sell for anything less than a sweetheart price, I can give them that price. The only good news: The Treasury has to publicly detail the prices it pays. So if the Treasury is paying grossly inflated prices, the taxpayer has a chance of finding out about it.
So, conceivably, there’s going to be a huge amount of very interesting data coming out (or there should be). It’s a mark of how much The Net Has Changed Everything that we should see this as a great opportunity to produce data-rich journalism and visualisations. Of course, someone at the Fed is thinking right now about the API for this. Right? Right? (Although to be fair it’s more likely that the Fed would do that than the Treasury would).