Economists against the plan

Posted by: Michael Mandel on September 26

A letter by economists from both ends of the political spectrum opposing the Paulson plan (for example, Robert Lucas from the more conservative end of the profession, and Michael Reich from the more liberal end).


To the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President pro tempore of the Senate:

As economists, we want to express to Congress our great concern for the plan proposed by Treasury Secretary Paulson to deal with the financial crisis. We are well aware of the difficulty of the current financial situation and we agree with the need for bold action to ensure that the financial system continues to function. We see three fatal pitfalls in the currently proposed plan:

1) Its fairness. The plan is a subsidy to investors at taxpayers’ expense. Investors who took risks to earn profits must also bear the losses. Not every business failure carries systemic risk. The government can ensure a well-functioning financial industry, able to make new loans to creditworthy borrowers, without bailing out particular investors and institutions whose choices proved unwise.

2) Its ambiguity. Neither the mission of the new agency nor its oversight are clear. If taxpayers are to buy illiquid and opaque assets from troubled sellers, the terms, occasions, and methods of such purchases must be crystal clear ahead of time and carefully monitored afterwards.

3) Its long-term effects. If the plan is enacted, its effects will be with us for a generation. For all their recent troubles, America’s dynamic and innovative private capital markets have brought the nation unparalleled prosperity. Fundamentally weakening those markets in order to calm short-run disruptions is desperately short-sighted.

For these reasons we ask Congress not to rush, to hold appropriate hearings, and to carefully consider the right course of action, and to wisely determine the future of the financial industry and the U.S. economy for years to come.


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Reader Comments

Howard

September 26, 2008 01:05 PM

First the Democrats blindly follow Obama ... now, they are willing to blindly follow Reid, Bush and Paulson ... in a decision which could dramatically affect every American for decades. Well, thank God, Senator John McCain, Senator Shelby, and hundreds of economists don't just want to take a few people's word for it. Already, Reid has tried to tack additional pork, like Acorn, to this bailout. I didn't think I could dislike inept Harry Reid, with his 15% approval rating, any more than I already did, but this isn't about Reid being left alone to decide America's future. It will be interesting to look back at this in retrospect, to see if we really did have to RUSH this 750 Billion dollar decision ... and, who really benefitted from pushing it through so quickly.

Mahesh

September 26, 2008 01:09 PM

I posted a link to this same letter along with names of economists supporting it on my blog just yesterday (IST). Please check it here:

http://srmrt.blogspot.com/2008/09/economists-are-protesting-bailout-plan.html

Mike

August 10, 2009 11:24 PM

I sure hope they get with the program quickly on this one before this ship sinks.MIke
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Michael Mandel, BW's award-winning chief economist, provides his unique perspective on the hot economic issues of the day. From globalization to the future of work to the ups and downs of the financial markets, Mandel-named 2006 economic journalist of the year by the World Leadership Forum-offers cutting edge analysis and commentary.

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