• 338 days Will The ECB Continue To Hike Rates?
  • 339 days Forbes: Aramco Remains Largest Company In The Middle East
  • 340 days Caltech Scientists Succesfully Beam Back Solar Power From Space
  • 740 days Could Crypto Overtake Traditional Investment?
  • 745 days Americans Still Quitting Jobs At Record Pace
  • 747 days FinTech Startups Tapping VC Money for ‘Immigrant Banking’
  • 750 days Is The Dollar Too Strong?
  • 750 days Big Tech Disappoints Investors on Earnings Calls
  • 751 days Fear And Celebration On Twitter as Musk Takes The Reins
  • 753 days China Is Quietly Trying To Distance Itself From Russia
  • 753 days Tech and Internet Giants’ Earnings In Focus After Netflix’s Stinker
  • 757 days Crypto Investors Won Big In 2021
  • 757 days The ‘Metaverse’ Economy Could be Worth $13 Trillion By 2030
  • 758 days Food Prices Are Skyrocketing As Putin’s War Persists
  • 760 days Pentagon Resignations Illustrate Our ‘Commercial’ Defense Dilemma
  • 761 days US Banks Shrug off Nearly $15 Billion In Russian Write-Offs
  • 764 days Cannabis Stocks in Holding Pattern Despite Positive Momentum
  • 765 days Is Musk A Bastion Of Free Speech Or Will His Absolutist Stance Backfire?
  • 765 days Two ETFs That Could Hedge Against Extreme Market Volatility
  • 767 days Are NFTs About To Take Over Gaming?
  1. Home
  2. Markets
  3. Other

Bankruptcy is Economic Stimulus

The distraction on Capitol Hill this week has to do with the jackpot bonuses that executives at AIG recently received. The argument is over a relative drop in the bucket. The total amount of bonuses given out was $165 million. The government has put $170 billion into AIG so far. Many now are demanding we get this money back. We ought to be spending our time and effort doing something more worthwhile, like figuring out how the Federal Reserve is handling the trillions of dollars they are creating and pumping into the economy, and how that is affecting the purchasing power of dollars in your pocket.

The big mistake was appropriating the TARP funds in the first place. A Johnny-come-lately bill of attainder won't stop the spending epidemic. This whole situation is a perfect demonstration of why "doing nothing" and letting failing companies fail would have been much better than sinking valuable money and resources into them.

When a company makes a profit, it is a signal that it is taking resources and increasing their value while controlling costs. When a company operates at a loss, it is a signal that it is decreasing the value of its resources or letting out-of-control costs outstrip any value it has created. A company operating at a loss is therefore an engine of wealth destruction. Bankruptcies are a net positive for the economy because more productive competitors are rewarded by opportunities to buy up remaining assets at bargain prices to strengthen their operations. In an economy that allows this kind of growth and change, any jobs lost by bankruptcy are soon replaced by new ones as the most efficiently managed businesses gain access to more assets and expand.

Bankruptcy was the stimulus that we needed in the case of AIG. More bankruptcies would clean out malinvested resources and enable economic growth again.

AIG, by losing money and maneuvering their operations to the brink of bankruptcy, was telling us that they were inefficient. So what did we do? We forced the taxpayer to assume the losses, and now we are supposed to be shocked that it is not working out. Had AIG gone bankrupt, it would have been impossible to hand out these bonuses. The taxpayer would have been fleeced for $170 billion less last year. Had they gone bankrupt, the world would not have come to an end, it would just continue on with one less engine of wealth destruction.

We should have learned from Japan. The 1990's is referred to as Japan's "lost decade" because of the zombie banks kept on life support by the Japanese government. Any productivity was redirected through these engines of wealth destruction, resulting in long term stagnation. We should and can avoid this outcome if we come to our senses.

A recession should be a time of strengthening and regrouping for an economy. But as long as the government insists on maintaining the status quo by propping up failed institutions, we will continue to dig a bigger hole for ourselves.

 

Back to homepage

Leave a comment

Leave a comment