politics, bailouts, competition 

"Some government contractors took out loans from the Paycheck Protection Program even as they were paid for government work during the pandemic"

The same thing happened during the housing crisis bailouts of 2009: perfectly healthy businesses, who had plenty of cash on-hand and were operating profitably, took bailout loans.

The same public anger erupted then. But then, as now, they missed something important.

politics, bailouts, competition 

It's a bit romantic, but in a healthy market (and not all are), competition is thriving and businesses fight to survive. Make a wrong move and your competition eats your lunch.

If you're smart, invest (in talented people, ideas) wisely, work hard -- and get lucky -- you're rewarded at the expense of your rivals. You eat their lunch.

This is how it's supposed to work!

But, bailouts change that.

politics, bailouts, competition 

Now, those uncompetitive rivals who were over-leveraged or financially unprepared for even a minor loss of revenue were being given loans under very favorable terms.

From the perspective of a healthy, successful business, this is an unfair subsidy that not only hurts their competitiveness, it distorts the entire market in favor of the uncompetitive rivals. In other words, it's also hurting consumers.

politics, bailouts, competition 

@argentum > it distorts the entire market in favor of the uncompetitive rivals

How did you reach this conclusion?

The market is naturally working against the uncompetitive rivals, right?

All a bailout does is delay the inevitable: needing another bailout or dying.

politics, bailouts, competition 


Yes, a healthy market punishes the uncompetitive and rewards the competitive.

Bailouts, emergency loans, and other forms of stimulus change that calculus, benefiting uncompetitive businesses by resuscitating their corpse.

This market distortion hurts consumers (higher prices) and competitive businesses that do not also seek the same subsidies.

It may only be delaying the inevitable, but it still carries an economic cost in the interim.

politics, bailouts, competition 

@argentum I think my confusion is: what's distorted?

I agree, their prolonged existence hurts consumers, but not any more than before.

I'm not even sure it's productive to talk about uncompetitive businesses; they just end up dying to the competitive ones. Natural selection and all that... Right?


politics, bailouts, competition 


In free market economics, any interference into "perfect competition" is considered a distortion. This must necessarily affect prices and other attributes normally decided by the market alone.

Depending on its implementation, stimulus can effectively reward the wrong businesses at the expense of the right ones and consumers. It can, itself, be a huge drag on the economy.

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