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Relax. Breathe. It's done.
The House of Representatives passed (and President Bush promptly signed) a $700 billion plan that'll bail out the financial system, ushering in what many saw as the economy's only hope of living to see another day.
The passage came just four days after the House voted down the original bill, causing the market to shake in its boots over the thought of having to make it out of this mess cold turkey. Consider, since the House originally voted the bill down:
- The Dow saw its largest one-day point loss in history.
- GM (NYSE: GM ) , Ford (NYSE: F ) , and Toyota (NYSE: TM ) reported an obliteration of sales after credit markets ground to a halt.
- The state of California said it might need to borrow $7 billion from the Treasury to cover day-to-day expenses after credit markets froze up.
- The country saw its largest monthly job loss in five years.
And consider these two comments:
- "If we don't get [the bailout] solved next week, I may go back to delivering papers."
- "If we don't do this [bailout], we may not have an economy on Monday."
The first comment came from Warren Buffett, the second from Ben Bernanke two weeks ago.
Buffett became the world's richest man by keeping a cool head under market stress, and Bernanke is someone who chooses his words very, very carefully. In that context, their statements serve to underline the severity of the crisis we're facing.
Opinions are all over the board, but the prevailing thought seems to be that as it became more and more apparent that this is a bailout of the entire financial system -- not just Wall Street executives -- support began to flow in.
So what does this mean for your investments? Well, it means the economy isn't about to completely implode, thank goodness. But that certainly doesn't mean we're out of the woods just yet. Shares of several banks, including Bank of America (NYSE: BAC ) , JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM ) , and Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS ) -- companies that should benefit from the bailout -- fell on the news ... go figure. Going forward, investors' attention is bound to shift toward the downside risks of the bailout, such as interest rates, inflation, national debt, and moral-hazard risks. The debate over whether Congress should pass the bill is over ... debate over whether it was the right idea isn't.
How do you feel about the plan now that it's a sealed deal? Feel free to chime in on our bailout discussion board, or throw in your two cents in the comment section below.
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