Not so much bail-out as rip-off

The US Treasury’s purchase of bad debt will benefit shareholders at the taxpayers’ expense – and worse, won’t work.

Whenever there is a systemic banking crisis there is a need to recapitalise the banking/financial system to avoid a destructive credit contraction. But purchasing toxic/illiquid assets of the financial system is not the most effective and efficient way to do this.

Such government-led recapitalisation – via the use of public resources – can occur in a number of ways: by purchasing bad assets or loans; an injection of preferred shares; an injection of common shares; a purchase of subordinated debt; an issuance of bonds to be placed on the banks’ balance sheet; an injection of cash; credit lines extended to the banks and government assumption of government liabilities.

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