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« Washington Post Express: Ready, Set, Start-Up | Main | Investor Insight Outside the Box »

February 15, 2011

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Some banks will sputter, and maybe even fail, even the big boys. But they've already had two years since the end-of-the-world sell-off in March 2009 to get their acts together, and many can now pay dividends. Hopefully the FDIC is ready to dive in and remove the remaining toxic mortgage assets of any failing banks, along with their managements, and then refloat the institutions. This contingency should be well mapped out by now with the Orwellian-named "Orderly Liquidation Authority" in the Dodd-Frank law.

But along with a likely lower stock market and failing banks will be several positive effects that will finally kick-start the economy. Oil and wheat and commodities will see a 20%-30% drop in price as speculators run for the hills. This will be a de facto tax cut for consumers. Hiring should restart when businesses see normal short-term rates, most likely 2%.

Similarly, the dollar, suddenly backed by rising interest rates, will start to rise. Unlike those foolish enough to believe that a lower dollar is the path to growth, a higher dollar will lower prices across the board, especially at Wal-Mart—shoes, shirts and sugar. Even better, the companies that are leading the economy, such as Apple and EMC, will benefit from lower costs for memory and storage, as will Google and Facebook stocking their data centers. This price cut on productivity tools will be a good thing for the economy and the real wealth effect.

And even better, despite rising costs from higher short-term rates, surviving banks will lose their fear of rising long-term rates and will start lowering banking spreads, signaling their willingness to lend and fund a real recovery.

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