The Corner

AIG Bailout

I’m reluctant to second-guess this stuff as it’s happening, but I would really like to hear a detailed after-action report on why it was so imperative to save AIG at precisely the moment markets were waiting to see if the feds are actually serious about moral hazard. The decision to let Lehman Bros. fail — the right decision as far as I can tell — now counts for next to nothing. I could’ve sworn that in America we let companies and shareholders that make bad decisions fail. I don’t think you have to be an absolutist on this stuff, so maybe there are facts I’m not aware of in this case or arguments about contagion that are more persuasive than they seem on the surface. But it seems to me we are sorely in need of a teaching moment that says Uncle Sam won’t make everything all better every time businesses get themselves in trouble.

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