In response to the prior column on the latest bailout, some people asked for more specific thoughts on the Paulson Plan and what would have happened if it hadn’t been passed.

In truth, I don’t actually know what would have happened had the plan not gone through. Most of the people offering predictions on the topic don’t know either; I’m just admitting it.

I do know this. Our economy has become far too dependent on finance and debt-fueled consumption. We need to return to our economic roots of production and saving. This shift will be painful, and one could make a case for some sort of government intervention to ease the transition.

But the Paulson Plan, the central focus of which is to prop up the prices of financial assets that no private buyer wants to touch, is not intended to ease the transition. It is intended to prevent it.

The plan is thus a giant step in the wrong direction. But this is exactly what you’d expect given that it was developed by the same group of people, using the same flawed analytical framework, that has misdiagnosed the problems all along.


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