How the AIG bailout scuttles chances for a second stimulus

By Felix Salmon
November 18, 2009
Paul Krugman is right to be worried about the unintended consequences of the AIG bailout:

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Paul Krugman is right to be worried about the unintended consequences of the AIG bailout:

We’ve greatly increased the chance of a Japanese-style lost decade, with I would now give roughly even odds of happening. Why? Because bank-friendly policies have squandered public trust in all government action: try talking to the general public about stimulus, and it’s all confounded in their minds with the deeply unpopular bailouts.

I do fear that the Obama administration has done a bad job of separating the financial-sector bailouts, on the one hand, from the stimulus bill, on the other. And if the general public starts conflating the two, there’s no chance of any more stimulus, no matter how needed it might be.

Part of the problem is that Tim Geithner was so vocal about the urgent necessity for both of them, dating back to his tenure at the Fed during the Bush administration. If he comes out and says that a second stimulus is needed, the obvious rejoinder will be “well you said that about the AIG bailout too”. And there’s no good answer to that.

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