Remember way back this morning when all those "leaders" of both parties in Washington had worked out a bailout deal. Well, never mind:
WASHINGTON — The House on Monday defeated a $700 billion emergency rescue for the nation’s financial system, ignoring urgent warnings from President Bush and congressional leaders of both parties that the economy could nosedive into recession without it. Stocks plummeted on Wall Street even before the 228-205 vote to reject the bill was announced on the House floor.
Bush and a host of leading congressional figures had implored the lawmakers to pass the legislation despite howls of protest from their constituents back home. Despite pressure from supporters, not enough members were willing to take the political risk just five weeks before an election.
Ample no votes came from both the Democratic and Republican sides of the aisle. More than two-thirds of Republicans and 40 percent of Democrats opposed the bill.
But just in case you’re now thinking that politicians are a bunch of jumpy, lily-livered cowards who can’t be relied upon to be cool in a crisis, take a look at what’s happening on Wall Street:
NEW YORK — Fear swept across the financial markets Monday, sending the Dow Jones industrials down as much as 705 points, after the government’s financial bailout package failed to survive a vote in the House.
As the vote was shown on TV, stocks plunged and investors fled to the safety of the credit markets, worrying that the financial system would now keep sinking under the weight of failed mortgage debt.
"Clearly something needs to be done, and the market dropping 400 points in 10 minutes is telling you that," said Chris Johnson president of Johnson Research Group. "This isn’t a market for the timid."
While investors had some worries that the vote would be close, many on Wall Street appeared to believe it would ultimately pass. The proposal wasn’t been seen on the Street as a panacea for the deepening problems in the financial sector that have led to the failure of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and Washington Mutual Inc. and the forced sale of Merrill Lynch & Co. and Wachovia Corp. – and that still pose a threat to many other banks.
The markets turned highly volatile as it became clear the measure wouldn’t find the necessary support. The Dow regained ground then fell back again, trading down 524.88, or 4.71 percent, to 10,618.25. At its low, it was down 705.06, not far from its previous record for an intraday drop, 721.56, set during the first trading day after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. Still, in percentage terms, the decline remained well below the more than 20 percent drops seen on Black Monday of October 1987 and the Depression.
Broader stock indicators also tumbled. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index declined 74.52, or 6.14 percent, to 1,138.75, and the Nasdaq composite index fell 139.00, or 6.37 percent, to 2,204.34.
The Federal Reserve declined to comment on the market’s decline.
With Wall Street in turmoil, the yield on the 3-month Treasury bill fell to 0.32 percent from 0.87 percent on Friday. That showed that investors were prepared to get meager returns on an investment as long as it was secure. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, fell to 3.69 percent from 3.84 percent late Thursday.
Investors also faced other worries about the banking system. Wachovia became the latest big bank to be rescued from its overwhelming bad mortgage debt, agreeing to a Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.-brokered buyout of its banking operations by Citigroup Inc.
Marc Pado, U.S. market strategist at Cantor Fitzgerald, said investors are worried about the spread of troubles beyond banks in the U.S. to Europe and other markets.
"Things are dying and breaking apart while they sit there and vote on this thing," he said.
So nice going all around, fellas. Ya bunch of feckless twits…