NPR logo Open Thread: What's Going On Out There?

Open Thread: What's Going On Out There?

A tent city outside Reno, Nev., June 25. Scott Sady/AP Photo hide caption

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Scott Sady/AP Photo

In the midst of the ongoing financial crisis, news has tended to fall into two camps. First, there's the question of what's happening — who's winning, who's losing, and what's going to happen to my 401(k).

The latest is that Congress and federal officials are moving toward a super-bailout of the financial industry. The idea is to stop the piecemeal rescuing of troubled lenders with a new plan, one that would have the government buy up billions in bad loans. By some estimates, the plan could require $1 trillion.

No one yet knows whether that money would come out of taxypayers' pockets, per se. Any bailout is confoundingly complex; these ones haven't even developed fully yet. Regulators and lawmakers are worried that without intervention, the entire financial system could collapse. But the proposed rescue wouldn't necessarily drain the public coffers. In the case of the $85 billion loan to AIG, for example, the public stands some chance of turning a profit off the 11 percent interest rate and its 80 percent stake in the company. The proposed bailout could come with a similar silver lining. We just don't know yet.

Certainly, the news is big — you knew that, right? — and it's scary, because everyone involved is still sorting through the implications (but you knew that, too).

Which brings us to the second question, namely how we all feel about what's going on. The Boston Globe today brings us this headline: "In Hard Times, Nation Sees Surge in Tent Encampments."

And yes, it does appear that more people are being driven to sleeping in the sparse and sodden. Most of us, though, aren't asking where we'll sleep tonight so much as how the Wall Street bankers and regulators are sleeping at all. Some of you want to blame President Bush. Some of you are glad to see the government tackling the crisis "head on," as one commenter wrote. And a lot of you, a lot, want to know whether anyone is looking out for the interests of ordinary people.

"Does our economy or the capitalist 'doctrine' have any room to simply look out for the little guy?" Teresa wrote. "Do the extensive measures to save these companies really seek to save all of us, because I feel very far removed from their connection to my personal economy?"

Your turn's in the comments. Stick with this. It's worth understanding, even if it takes a while.