Today saw markets around the globe soar, mostly on the happy thoughts of investors whose moods have been buoyed by a U.S. plan to rescue American financial markets from the consequences of a decade of fast and loose money management. The hope is that the plan, whose speculated cost runs somewehere in the trillions of dollars, will, like Homer Simpson’s ample rump, “turn a potential Chernobyl into a mere Three Mile Island” of economic collapse.

So what will the plan to stem Wall Street’s bleeding and keep the current kerfuffle from growing into a full fledged fiasco look like? We don’t know yet. We do know that it will cost a lot of taxpayer money, without a guaranteed payback of said funds. We know that President Bush today called for the speedy passage of legislation “as quickly as possible without adding controversial provisions that could delay action,” which one can assume means that the administration doesn’t want to see any meaningful penal measures that would make investment banks think twice before doing anything like this again. Whatever the end plan is, it will involve borrowing more cash from China. We’ll probably know exactly how much is going to be spent by early next week, as Bush assured the American public, like Fed Secerarary Paulson before him, that lawmakers will be working through the weekend to cleanup a mess it took them years of lax oversight to make. Which is admirable, even if you have to wish they’d stop acting like they deserve medals for coming into work on Saturday.

So, other than spending your money, what is the government doing about the financial crisis? They’ve also prohibited short selling of 799 financial stocks for the next two weeks. This move was lauded by investment banks like Morgan Stanley and Goldman, who in the past have made money for their clients (and thus themselves) by… you guessed it – short selling stocks. Naturally, when they do it, this is a good thing for the economy, but when it’s done to them, the sky is falling. But taken together with banks that are soon going to be artificially propped up by government funds and false confidence, the facts that some of the best watchdogs for corporate malfeasance and dodgy accounting (keep in mind it was short sellers who brought about the falls of companies like Enron and Worldcom), and it may be a while before we really know what sort of damage has been done to the economy. and that means it will be even longer before we even start fixing it.

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