Friday, September 07, 2007

Moral Hazard Hypocrisy

Conservatives love to argue against national healthcare on moral hazard grounds; but somehow we taxpayers and the Federal Reserve are supposed supposed to bail out educated, smart, wealthy and powerful people when they take they know -- or should know -- are excessively risky financial instruments.

Here is a snippet from Robert Reich's excellent post:

When it comes to risky behavior in the market, America has a double standard. We’re told that economic risk-taking as the key to entrepreneurial success, but when big entrepreneurs take big risks that fail it’s amazing how often they get bailed out. Indeed, the history of modern American business is littered with federal bailouts, loan guarantees, and no-questions-asked reorganizations. Some are well known, such as the Chrylser bailout of 1979, the savings and loan bailout of 1989, and the airline bailout of 2001. Most occur in the relative dark, such as the 1998 bailout of giant hedge fund Long-Term Capital Management (courtesy of former Fed chair Alan Greenspan), the not infrequent bailouts of under-funded corporate pension plans by the government’s Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation, price supports for big agribusinesses facing market downturns, or the current bailout of Wall Street being engineered by Ben Bernanke’s Fed. Behind every one of these bailouts are CEOs or financial executives who were rescued from their bad bets.

Mr. Reich has a new book out called Supercapitalism.

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