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Dow Dodges a Bullet


Opportunity abounds among the ashes.

As crazy as it sounds, most investors rejoiced over the fact the Dow was down "only" 312 points. For a split moment, the Dow was on the verge of charging into double digit loss territory. Break out the confetti.

One thing is for sure: I felt hopeful, and that's key, isn't it? So much of the market's fate is tied to how people feel. The operative word lately has been "confidence" (or lack thereof). I wonder what would happen if we went one week without a fancy new acronym from the Fed - or more money for the banks. I wonder what would happen if we actually heard that the government succesfully reworked one mortgage held by Fannie Mae (FNM) or Freddie Mac (FRE).

Just imagine if a bunch of SUVs carrying federal agents, US marshals and guys with plain-looking briefcases descended on a neighborhood with an exorbitant number of delinquent mortgages. Imagine some man-in-black walking up to one home, ringing the doorbell and going inside. And that guy was the President of the United States. And what if, in his best Ed McMahon impersonation, he was carrying some giant cardboard mortgage contracts.

Fannie and Freddie have a few billion dollars worth of subprime and alt-A mortgage loans sitting around. Can you imagine the joy on the homeowners' faces? It would show that the folks in charge haven't forgotten about the epicenter of the crisis. Reworking mortgages is the answer for all parties involved.

This doesn't mean every mortgage will be saved. But it behooves society to mitigate the damage from subprime loans, and it behooves banks to get a handle on the situation and move onto regular business. Not only is the government repairing the holes in the financial version of the Titanic, but they're making banks larger and more powerful.

On Friday, PNC Bank (PNC) was able to scoop up National City Corp (NCC) on the cheap. The price tag was only $5.2 billion. Of course, the government forked over $7.7 billion to facilitate the loan.

Let's not forget the $250 billion allocated to patch up the banks comes out of the $700 billion rescue plan. Now there's word the Treasury will invest in insurance companies. I'm not sure if there will be enough money from the $125 billion set aside for regional banks to shore up large insurers, too. Considering the fact that American International Group (AIG) will need more than the $122.8 billion assigned to it already, just how much money will the rest of the industry need?

After insurance companies are shored up, the next industry could be bond insurers and conglomerates with financial tentacles. Airlines, autos and other industries will push for dough, too.
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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