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As The Stimulus Passes, The Markets Tumble

The Senate has just passed an $838 billion economic stimulus bill, as the House had passed one price-tagged at $820 billion last week. Virtually every vote "nay" in both chambers came from the Republicans. This is a certain form of chutzpah. Having presided over the current calamity and its origins over eight years, the G.O.P. leadership still has the nerve to claim wisdom is on its side. There will be negotiations between the House and the Senate before the terms of final passage are settled.

In the meantime, this good news was taken as disastrous by the markets which--as I see on my screen at 1:35 p.m.--are down roughly 4% for the day. Timothy Geithner also seemed to scare the bejeezus out of investors with his venturesome initiative. But imagine how much lower the indices would be if the initiative had been restrained and modest.