Saturday, July 16, 2011

Why Are We Protecting Banks and Wealthy Bondholders?

Who owns Greek debt and Italian Debt and Portuguese debt and so forth? Banks own a lot of it and somehow that is why we are supposed to support a bailout. Why?

If banks made bad decisions and ended up putting their money up to fund folks that can't pay them back, why should taxpayers pony up? That's all that's going on in the Eurozone. Let these countries work out their debt problems with their creditors like private citizens must do. Why are banks priveleged in this deal?

What's more, if every time German and French banks make stupid decisions, their governments intervene to prevent them from taking their punishment, then why shouldn't they simply keep making stupid decisions? Why not? Taxpayers will step up to the plate and take the bad decisions off their hands.

The usual hue and cry by the bailout proponents is that a financial and economic debacle will occur if we let those who made bad decisions suffer the consequences of their own bad decisions. Really?

It is convenient for the bailout crowd to argue "what ifs." The reality is that all bailouts do is postpone disaster and guarantee that disaster will result in a much larger financial and economic conflagration at some later date.

Take the current US national debt issue. If we default now on $ 14 trillion, we will be far better off than if we default in ten years when the national debt may be pushing $30 trillion and millions more Americans will be dependent (through the entitlements) on benefits that are going to be savagely reduced. Now the problem will be a serious one, In ten years, the problem will be catastrophic and could easily usher in major political changes that none of us would be happy to see.

The idea that the entitlements in the US can be preserved is essentially the argument of the street-demonstrators in Greece that their lifestyle (retirements at age 52) can be preserved. This is simply a matter of numbers. It can't and won't happen, no matter how the current political battles unfold.

Worse, the western economies have no economic growth in their future. This means growing stagnation and limited opportunities for the young, the disadvantaged and the unemployed. Buffett, Gates and Soros will do fine. They have theirs and they will not give it up. But, for the rest of the country, especially those in the bottom half of the economic pile, their future is pretty dim. No economic growth and a world of massive economic regulation restricts any real opportunities for folks who need it the most.

Is destroying the economic future of the western world a reasonable price to pay to protect rich bondholders and banks?