October 29, 2008
Bailout Money Might Be Easy Money
Posted by David Zaring

The automakers want a federal bailout, and the WSJ has a story on the currently ineligible bank-like institutions (private banks, most notably) hoping to get their bit of the $250 billion.  A sign that things really are bad?  John Carney suggests otherwise:

When thousands of otherwise healthy banks are lining up for the funds, willing to give up equity stakes and pay dividends to the government, we know that the price extracted for the bailout bucks is too small.  Healthy banks wouldn’t be eager to get on the gravy train if it was priced correctly.

We've noted that if there are downsides to this money, Treasury hasn't gotten around to enacting them very carefully, and as the injections go forward, it's going to be difficult to put onerous new conditions in place - that would look like, and might even be, the sort of retroactive administrative regulations disfavored by the courts.

We may, in short, be seeing a real shift in regulatory philosophy here, from punishing bailouts of financial institutions to pleasureable ones (for them, at least).

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