The Treasury Department is about to launch its stress test of 20 major financial institutions, running their balance sheets "through a simulated worse case scenario," as CBS' Anthony Mason put it, to measure which is potentially insolvent. CNBC's Trish Regan was at the New York Stock Exchange for NBC. She quoted from a joint statement designed to "calm investors" from the FDIC, the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve Board "that promised to preserve the viability of systemically important financial institutions."
Fears of the N-word, as ABC's Betsy Stark called it, continued to haunt the stock market. Her anchor Charles Gibson asked her why nationalization is considered such a dirty word, since the federal takeover would only be temporary. Stark offered two answers: that it contradicts Wall Street's philosophy of free market capitalism; and that private investors will be wiped out. "Those investors have been almost wiped out already, haven't they?" "Well, it is not entirely rational."
How haunted is the stock market? CBS' Mason offered these fun facts: a share of General Electric is cheaper than a light bulb, a share of General Motors is cheaper than a can of gasoline, a share of The New York Times is cheaper than its Sunday edition.
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