Saturday, April 16, 2011

Why Bail Out Bondholders?

Debts continue to rise in the US and in Western Europe. The so-called bailouts of Greece and Ireland simply enable those countries to get deeper in debt and continue the fiction that some day those debts can be paid off. They can't.

Over the next sixteen months, more European countries will be added to the bailout list: Portugal first, then Spain, and then attention will focus on Italy. The purpose of a bailout is to enable a country to continue to expand its debt. Is that a good idea?

Isn't it time the lenders took a loss. Why are we protecting the lenders? The lenders are sophisticated, highly paid folks, who took a risk that is not working out. They should get burned for their mistake. Why bring the taxpayers into the picture and continue to increase debt levels that everyone knows will never get paid.

It is time for a "workout," as they say in the finance world. Lenders and borrowers need to sit down at a a table and "work out" a new repayment schedule -- a schedule that will inevitably lower debt levels and force the lenders to restructure their way into losses. This is going to happen anyway. Why not start now, instead of pushing policies that simply increase debt to even higher levels and perpetuate the myth of eventual repayment.

Capitalism can't work unless you let it work. Let it work.