Tag Archives: crony capitalism

Corporate Welfare Has Opportunity Costs

A recent Washington Times editorial quotes me saying as much:

“Washington spends about $92 billion each year on corporate welfare,” Ryan Young of the Competitive Enterprise Institute told The Washington Times. “Imagine if that money was left in the economy instead of squandered on companies that couldn’t make it in the marketplace.”

Read the whole thing here.

 

CEI Podcast for October 13, 2011: Occupy Wall Street

 

Have a listen here.

CEI Founder and President Fred Smith compares the Occupy Wall Street movement with the Tea Party movement and finds similarities as well as differences. Both oppose bailouts and other forms of corporate welfare. But, as he points out in a recent USA Today op-ed, he fears the Occupiers are confusing such crony capitalism with the real thing. If corporations have undue influence over government, making that government bigger and more powerful will only worsen the problem. The solution is separation of corporation and state.

CEI Podcast for September 15, 2011: Solyndra

 

Have a listen here.

Myron Ebell, Director of CEI’s Center for Energy and Environment, takes a look at the brewing Solyndra scandal. Solyndra is a company that makes solar panels and recently declared bankruptcy. In 2009, the federal government gave Solyndra a $535 million loan even though its own analysts predicted the company would go bankrupt in 2011. The company’s cozy relationship with political figures, including a major political donor with an investment stake, make the loan — and its low interest rate — look rather suspicious.

Antitrust as Corporate Welfare for Aggrieved Competitors

Wayne Crews and I have an article in today’s American Spectator about the antitrust crusade against Intel. Our key points:

-An FTC picking winners and losers is not capitalism. It is crony capitalism.

-Chips in “Wintel” desktop computers increasingly constitute just one subset of a vast semiconductor market. Only a small fraction of the chips in non-PC devices are Intel’s — and these devices are where the future lies.

-Regulators’ charges against Intel have changed over the years, but their verdict always remains the same: guilty. Suspicious.

-We’d be better off prosecuting the DOJ and the FTC for colluding against free enterprise.

Fixing TARP: Is Transparency Enough?

bailout

The House is voting today on a bill to improve transparency in the TARP bailout program. TARP is, shall we say, rather opaque. 25 different agencies administer TARP funds. Each one uses different accounting standards. Keeping track of everything almost impossible.

I wrote an article not too long ago saying that transparency is welcome symptomatic relief. But TARP itself is a disease. The only way to cure the disease of bailout programs is to abolish them. Russ Roberts said much the same thing:

[C]apitalism is a profit and loss system. The profits encourage risk-taking. The losses encourage prudence. If the taxpayer almost always eats the losses for the losers, you don’t have capitalism. You have crony capitalism.

Transparency is a good start. But the goal should be to not have government bailing out politically favored companies in the first place.

Washington and Wall Street: Best Kept Separate

Russ Roberts’ testimony in front of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is superb. Read it (it’s short). Wall Street deserves plenty of blame for the financial crisis. But Washington deserves more:

When your teenager drives drunk and wrecks the car, and you keep giving him a do-over—
repairing the car and handing him back the keys—he’s going to keep driving
drunk. Washington keeps giving the bad banks and Wall Street firms a do-over. Here are
the keys. Keep driving. The story always ends with a crash.

I’m mad at Wall Street. But I’m a lot madder at the people who gave them the keys to
drive our economy off the cliff.

Goldman Sachs and Crony Capitalism

Over at NPR, George Mason professor Russ Roberts looks at why Goldman Sachs prospers as Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers die, despite following more or less similar business practices. Key point:

[C]apitalism is a profit and loss system. The profits encourage risk-taking. The losses encourage prudence. If the taxpayer almost always eats the losses for the losers, you don’t have capitalism. You have crony capitalism.

The content deserves close study. So does the delivery; Russ is one of the clearest economics writers there is.