Reply To: Bailouts


The argument against bailouts is that they supplant entrepreneurial decision making about production in society with political decision making. Entrepreneurs must economize for society at large to earn profits and avoid losses. By turning production decisions over to politicians, standards of living suffer, since their decisions are not subject to the test of profits and losses.

If the government had not bailed out AIG, then the inferior entrepreneurs who drove AIG into bankruptcy would have been supplanted by superior entrepreneurs who built and maintained their capital. Capitalists are the ultimate entrepreneurs in the market economy, funding superior entrepreneurs who earn profits and avoid losses and withdrawing funding from entrepreneurs who do not earn profits and suffer losses. The decisions of the superior entrepreneurs (who would have been put in place by the capitalists) would have been more profitable than the decisions of the inferior entrepreneurs (who were left in place by the politicians).

A rising stock price is no more evidence of a successful bailout than the creation of “green” jobs is evidence of the success of government subsidies to electric car manufacturers. To pass the test of profit and loss, a decision must generate more value in the chosen alternative than the value of the alternative given up.

Finally, the taxpayers will not receive a penny of the $22.7 billion. It will go to politicians who will use it to bid resources away from economizing uses by entrepreneurs in the market into their own inefficient political decisions.