Don’t just “do something,” stand there

From Russ Robertsop-ed in the Wall Street Journal*:

Back in March, Henry Paulson, Ben Bernanke and the experts assured us that Bear Stearns had to be propped up. If not, the whole system could come crashing down. It is crashing down anyway. Just as in the 1930s, there is no evidence that the policy makers have any understanding of what they are doing. They need to make way for the natural forces of repair.

They need to let housing prices fall. They need to let firms go bankrupt. They need to let firms that are healthy thrive. They need to let healthy firms buy the sick firms. It is time to let the imprudent fail and the prudent pick up the bargains.

A recession is coming (or has already arrived) no matter what happens in Washington. The question is whether the attempt to forestall it is going to make it worse and turn it into another Great Depression.

By acting without rhyme or reason, politicians have destroyed the rules of the game. There is no reason to invest, no reason to take risk, no reason to be prudent, no reason to look for buyers if your firm is failing. Everything is up in the air and as a result, the only prudent policy is to wait and see what the government will do next. The frenetic efforts of FDR had the same impact: Net investment was negative through much of the 1930s.

(via Ari Armstrong)

*From last October…somehow I missed it.

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