Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Bailouts Are Above All a Moral Problem

27 May 2009

John Hussman, President of Hussman Investment Trust, has stated in simple terms what is wrong with the bailout process.

It has diverted funds from hopeful and productive enterprises to wasteful and inefficient activities. The cost? Our future wealth, health, productivity and morality.

Mr. Hussman states:

"The bailout is not something "neutral" that cancels itself out, but instead amounts to a transfer of trillions of dollars of purchasing power directly and indirectly from those who didn't finance reckless mortgage loans to those who did. Farewell to the projects, innovation, research, investment, and growth that might have been financed by the savings and retained earnings of good stewards of capital. Those funds are being diverted to the careless stewards who now stand to be made whole.

"In short, these bailouts are emphatically not neutral to society as a whole, because they damage incentives and divert productive resources into hands that have proven themselves to be reckless and incapable. To believe that the bailouts are just money we owe to ourselves is to overlook serious ethical implications, as well as distributional and incentive effects."

What else is there to say?

Well, perhaps I do have one point to add....

Now that we are funding vice rather than virtue, what becomes of the bigger issues at stake in the world? How does waste on this scale impact the chances of war versus peace? International cooperation versus conflict? Responsible government versus cronyism and promotion of special interests? Opportunity for all versus inequality? Hope versus cynicism? Moral progress versus moral dissolution?

We have not yet begun to count the costs, both financial and non-financial, of the greatest bailout of the reckless by the responsible in world history. The costs will inevitably be greater than those that are presently being reckoned.

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