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Punitive Measures

By Matthew Yglesias

"Punitive Measures"

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I just heard Ben Bernanke saying that there should be no “punitive measures” for companies that participate in a bailout because that might discourage firms from participating. But that would be the point, right? That if some measure of bailing out is truly necessary then the money will be provided, but it shouldn’t just become handouts for bankers. Punitive measures mean that only firms that genuinely have no alternative will enter into the program, and their corrupt or inept managers will be duly punished. Firms that would merely prefer free money to no free money will, by contrast, stay out of the program and avoid punishment but suffer some financial loss. What’s the problem with that?

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