Stiglitz Wants Bankruptcy for the Big Three

There's no shortage of opinion out there about whether the federal government should bail out the "Big Three" automakers-GM, Ford, and Chrysler. But this essay from economics Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz (seen here absorbing the knowledge of 200 books at once by osmosis) has one of the best word/insight ratios around....a plan to bail out the carmakers would benefit shareholders and bondholders as much as anybody else. These are not the people that need help right now. In fact they contributed to the problem.Financial markets are supposed to allocate capital and monitor that it is used to good effect. They are supposed to be rewarded when they do that job well, but bear the consequences when they fail. The markets failed. Wall Street's focus on quarterly returns encouraged the short-sighted behaviour that contributed to their own demise and that of America's manufacturing, including the automotive industry. Today, they are asking to escape accountability. We should not allow it. What needs to be done is to help the automakers get a fresh start and allow them to focus on producing good cars rather than trying to juggle their books to meet past obligations.The US car industry will not be shut down, but it does need to be restructured. That is what Chapter 11 of America's bankruptcy code is supposed to do. A variant of pre-packaged bankruptcy – where all the terms are set before going before the bankruptcy court – can allow them to produce better and more environmentally sound cars.Perhaps it's not such a bad thing that the bailout talks collapsed last night.