The current financial crisis, which has resulted in the worst recession since World War II, will come to an end when confidence is restored in our global financial institutions. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner learned very quickly last week that the markets want more than a blueprint, they want a specific plan that will lead to the balance sheets of our largest money center banks being healthy and the subprime toxic assets isolated. He and his colleagues in the Obama administration need to come forward with a transparent plan that starts to restore confidence. The need for transparency is greater than at any time in recent memory and it must be combined with a plan that provides decisive actions.
We also need the Obama team to start to demonstrate some optimism that there will be a recovery. On January 9th, 1961 President-Elect John F. Kennedy inspired a nation with such optimism in a speech delivered to the Joint Convention of the General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He said, “During the last sixty days, I have been at the task of constructing an administration. It has been a long and deliberate process. Some have counseled greater speed. Others have counseled more expedient tests. But I have been guided by the standard John Winthrop set before his shipmates on the flagship Arbella three hundred and thirty-one years ago, as they, too, faced the task of building a new government on a perilous frontier. We must always consider, he said, that we shall be as a city upon a hill–the eyes of all people are upon us. Today the eyes of all people are truly upon us–and our governments, in every branch, at every level, national, state and local, must be as a city upon a hill–constructed and inhabited by men aware of their great trust and their great responsibilities.”
President Ronald Reagan in his farewell speech on January 11th, 1989 also spoke of the “shining city upon a hill.” He said, “And that’s about all I have to say tonight. Except for one thing. The past few days when I’ve been at that window upstairs, I’ve thought a bit of the shining city upon a hill. The phrase comes from John Winthrop, who wrote it to describe the America he imagined. What he imagined was important…I’ve spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don’t know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind it was a tall proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, wind-swept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace, a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity, and if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That’s how I saw it and see it still.”
President Obama has both the mandate and the oratorical skills to help restore a sense of confidence and optimism. He needs to communicate directly with the American people that we will find our way to a recovery.
In our own small way the team at Asset International works every day to provide transparency to our readers. Nevin Adams, the editor-in-chief of Plan Sponsor (www.plansponsor.com), provides the leadership to our editorial team and encourages them to deal, forthrightly, with issues of the day and how they impact both plan design and investment strategies. Nevin, as most of the best business editors I have known, came to Asset International from an industry position. This background provides him with a unique vantage point and insures that Plan Sponsor is a “must read” and a trusted information source for our subscribers.
On the deal front, we saw John Malone and Liberty emerge as a possible white knight for Sirius XM. As the first major tranche of bonds come due on Tuesday, Mel Karmazin and his board will have to make a decision on Charlie Ergen and the Dish Network, John Malone and DirecTV, or bankruptcy. As a subscriber, I am assuming that any of these options will allow me to continue to listen to CNBC as I drive to and from AI’s offices in Stamford.