Friday, October 9, 2009

Let's Not Have Any Bailouts on the Next Leg Down

This is as true today as it was six months ago, when it was published.

The folly was compounded by the bailouts of Bear Stearns and AIG. The bailouts also undermined vital public confidence in the fairness of our system. While small businesses struggle to recoup bills owed by failed customers, the likes of Goldman Sachs, which miscalculated the creditworthiness of AIG, were made whole -- and could thus pay bonuses amounting to many times the incomes of most taxpayers.

Suppose that, when the financial crisis broke two years ago, our leaders had shown a Churchillian steadfastness and allowed the normal realignment to play out under a predictable judicial and regulatory regime. The prices of stocks, bank debt and houses would still have crumbled and unemployment risen. Although recovery wouldn't have been immediate, we'd at least have progress, instead of a sullen paralysis and futile efforts to turn the clock back.

Not only are bailouts a crime, they fail at their stated purpose by creating uncertainty and dragging on the inevitable.

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