27 Oct 2008

Laffer Excoriates the Bailout

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My ex-boss has an uncharacteristically harsh op ed in today’s WSJ. When I worked at Laffer Associates a couple of years ago, he would sometimes have to tell his critics, “I’m not always an optimist, I just happen to be right now.” Well, I don’t think he’ll need to worry about that particular caricature for the next few years… Some excerpts:

No one likes to see people lose their homes when housing prices fall and they can’t afford to pay their mortgages; nor does any one of us enjoy watching banks go belly-up for making subprime loans without enough equity. But the taxpayers had nothing to do with either side of the mortgage transaction. If the house’s value had appreciated, believe you me the overleveraged homeowner and the overly aggressive bank would never have shared their gain with taxpayers. Housing price declines and their consequences are signals to the market to stop building so many houses, pure and simple.

If you don’t believe me, just watch how Congress and Barney Frank run the banks. If you thought they did a bad job running the post office, Amtrak, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the military, just wait till you see what they’ll do with Wall Street.

I am glad that a solid group of free market economists are yelling and screaming that this bailout is nuts. At least we will be on record when the excrement hits the rotating blades.

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