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Marketplace Scratch Pad

Filling in

Paddy Hirsch Oct 21, 2009


Scott is sick today. We’re hoping it’s not swine flu, which continues to make headlines. Vaccines are a big issue. A number of states say they’re not getting enough.

Meanwhile, there’s a frenzied debate over whether the vaccine is even safe.
The flu is making kids sick in ever-growing numbers, and may be keeping them out of school. It’s also putting pressure on hospitals, as patients need to be quarantined. We’ll have a story on this on today’s Marketplace.
Finally, a great story from Japan – swine flu has been detected, horror of horrors … in swine!

Bank battle

Lots of banking news out there today. Neil Barofsky, the special inspector general for the TARP, made his quarterly statement today. He says TARP worked! But it cost us. And not just $699 billion (OK, we’ve only spent $382 billion so far).

He says the biggest cost may be the loss in the government’s credibility from an understandably distrustful and angry public.

And then there’s the fact that the financial system is at greater risk of systemic failure than it was a year ago. Why? Because the banks are bigger than ever, and the network of credit derivatives that ties them all together is as intact and as opaque as it ever was.
The banks are going great guns, of course.

Even Morgan Stanley recorded a profit (better than expected, of course). Some people say this is a sign that the banking crisis is over. So long as the government doesn’t pull out the rug.

Treasury Secretary Tim Geither says he’s winding down a number of government bailout programs, including TARP. So we should be getting that $317 billion back, right? Wrong President Obama wants that money to go to smaller, community banks, who will be encouraged to lend it to small and medium sized enterprises.

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