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165 Economists Rip Bailout Plan

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Posted: September 25, 2008

7:08 pm Eastern


At least 165 economists have signed a letter to Congress members warning of three

pitfalls in the Bush administration's $700 billion proposal to deal with the Wall Street


The economists say they are well aware of the current financial situation and agree there's a need for bold action but ask Congress "not to rush."

They urge lawmakers to hold appropriate hearings and "to carefully consider the right course of action."

The three problems with the plan proposed by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, the economists say, are its fairness, ambiguity and long-term effects.

President Bush was joined today by presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama at an emergency White House meeting on the plan. Key members of Congress said this morning they had struck a deal in principle, but the outcome of the proposal is unclear. Participants in the White House meeting called it extremely contentious.

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The proposal allows the government to buy the faulty mortgage-based assets of severely weakened financial institutions to prevent them from collapsing and setting off a chain of events that would affect citizens, including depletion of retirement accounts, rising home foreclosures, bankrupt businesses and lost jobs.

The economists contend the plan is unfair, because it's a "subsidy to investors at taxpayers' expense."

"Investors who took risks to earn profits must also bear the losses," the economists say in their letter. "Not every business failure carries systemic risk. The government can ensure a well-functioning financial industry, able to make new loans to creditworthy borrowers, without bailing out particular investors and institutions whose choices proved unwise."

The plan is ambiguous, they contend, as neither "the mission of the new agency nor its oversight are clear."

"If taxpayers are to buy illiquid and opaque assets from troubled sellers, the terms, occasions, and methods of such purchases must be crystal clear ahead of time and carefully monitored afterwards," the letter states.

If the plan is enacted, the economists argue further, "its effects will be with us for a generation."

"For all their recent troubles, America's dynamic and innovative private capital markets have brought the nation unparalleled prosperity," they say. "Fundamentally weakening those markets in order to calm short-run disruptions is desperately short-sighted."

The signatories as of this morning were:

Acemoglu Daron (Massachussets Institute of Technology)

Adler Michael (Columbia University)

Admati Anat R. (Stanford University)

Alvarez Fernando (University of Chicago)

Andersen Torben (Northwestern University)

Barankay Iwan (University of Pennsylvania)

Barry Brian (University of Chicago)

Beim David (Columbia University)

Berk Jonathan (Stanford University)

Bisin Alberto (New York University)

Bittlingmayer George (University of Kansas)

Boldrin Michele (Washington University)

Brooks Taggert J. (University of Wisconsin)

Brynjolfsson Erik (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

Buera Francisco J.(UCLA)

Carroll Christopher (Johns Hopkins University)

Cassar Gavin (University of Pennsylvania)

Chaney Thomas (University of Chicago)

Chari Varadarajan V. (University of Minnesota)

Chauvin Keith W. (University of Kansas)

Chintagunta Pradeep K. (University of Chicago)

Christiano Lawrence J. (Northwestern University)

Cochrane John (University of Chicago)

Coleman John (Duke University)

Constantinides George M. (University of Chicago)

Crain Robert (UC Berkeley)

Culp Christopher (University of Chicago)

De Marzo Peter (Stanford University)

Dubé Jean-Pierre H. (University of Chicago)

Edlin Aaron (UC Berkeley)

Eichenbaum Martin (Northwestern University)

Ely Jeffrey (Northwestern University)

Eraslan Hülya K. K.(Johns Hopkins University)

Faulhaber Gerald (University of Pennsylvania)

Feldmann Sven (University of Melbourne)

Fernandez-Villaverde Jesus (University of Pennsylvania)

Fox Jeremy T. (University of Chicago)

Frank Murray Z.(University of Minnesota)

Fuchs William (University of Chicago)

Fudenberg Drew (Harvard University)

Gabaix Xavier (New York University)

Gao Paul (Notre Dame University)

Garicano Luis (University of Chicago)

Gerakos Joseph J. (University of Chicago)

Gibbs Michael (University of Chicago)

Goettler Ron (University of Chicago)

Goldin Claudia (Harvard University)

Gordon Robert J. (Northwestern University)

Guadalupe Maria (Columbia University)

Hagerty Kathleen (Northwestern University)

Hamada Robert S. (University of Chicago)

Hansen Lars (University of Chicago)

Harris Milton (University of Chicago)

Hart Oliver (Harvard University)

Hazlett Thomas W. (George Mason University)

Heaton John (University of Chicago)

Heckman James (University of Chicago - Nobel Laureate)

Henderson David R. (Hoover Institution)

Henisz, Witold (University of Pennsylvania)

Hertzberg Andrew (Columbia University)

Hite Gailen (Columbia University)

Hitsch Günter J. (University of Chicago)

Hodrick Robert J. (Columbia University)

Hopenhayn Hugo (UCLA)

Hurst Erik (University of Chicago)

Imrohoroglu Ayse (University of Southern California)

Israel Ronen (London Business School)

Jaffee Dwight M. (UC Berkeley)

Jagannathan Ravi (Northwestern University)

Jenter Dirk (Stanford University)

Jones Charles M. (Columbia Business School)

Kaboski Joseph P. (Ohio State University)

Kaplan Ethan (Stockholm University)

Karolyi, Andrew (Ohio State University)

Kashyap Anil (University of Chicago)

Keim Donald B (University of Pennsylvania)

Ketkar Suhas L (Vanderbilt University)

Kiesling Lynne (Northwestern University)

Klenow Pete (Stanford University)

Koch Paul (University of Kansas)

Kocherlakota Narayana (University of Minnesota)

Koijen Ralph S.J. (University of Chicago)

Kondo Jiro (Northwestern University)

Korteweg Arthur (Stanford University)

Kortum Samuel (University of Chicago)

Krueger Dirk (University of Pennsylvania)

Ledesma Patricia (Northwestern University)

Lee Lung-fei (Ohio State University)

Leuz Christian (University of Chicago)

Levine David I.(UC Berkeley)

Levine David K.(Washington University)

Linnainmaa Juhani (University of Chicago)

Lucas Robert (University of Chicago - Nobel Laureate)

Luttmer Erzo G.J. (University of Minnesota)

Manski Charles F. (Northwestern University)

Martin Ian (Stanford University)

Mayer Christopher (Columbia University)

Mazzeo Michael (Northwestern University)

McDonald Robert (Northwestern University)

Meadow Scott F. (University of Chicago)

Mehra Rajnish (UC Santa Barbara)

Mian Atif (University of Chicago)

Middlebrook Art (University of Chicago)

Miguel Edward (UC Berkeley)

Miravete Eugenio J. (University of Texas at Austin)

Miron Jeffrey (Harvard University)

Moretti Enrico (UC Berkeley)

Moriguchi Chiaki (Northwestern University)

Moro Andrea (Vanderbilt University)

Morse Adair (University of Chicago)

Mortensen Dale T. (Northwestern University)

Mortimer Julie Holland (Harvard University)

Muralidharan Karthik (UC San Diego)

Nevo Aviv (Northwestern University)

Ohanian Lee (UCLA)

Pagliari Joseph (University of Chicago)

Papanikolaou Dimitris (Northwestern University)

Paul Evans (Ohio State University)

Peltzman Sam (University of Chicago)

Perri Fabrizio (University of Minnesota)

Phelan Christopher (University of Minnesota)

Piazzesi Monika (Stanford University)

Piskorski Tomasz (Columbia University)

Rampini Adriano (Duke University)

Reagan Patricia (Ohio State University)

Reich Michael (UC Berkeley)

Reuben Ernesto (Northwestern University)

Roberts Michael (University of Pennsylvania)

Rogers Michele (Northwestern University)

Rotella Elyce (Indiana University)

Ruud Paul (Vassar College)

Safford Sean (University of Chicago)

Sandbu Martin E. (University of Pennsylvania)

Sapienza Paola (Northwestern University)

Savor Pavel (University of Pennsylvania)

Scharfstein David (Harvard University)

Seim Katja (University of Pennsylvania)

Shang-Jin Wei (Columbia University)

Shimer Robert (University of Chicago)

Shore Stephen H. (Johns Hopkins University)

Siegel Ron (Northwestern University)

Smith David C. (University of Virginia)

Smith Vernon L.(Chapman University- Nobel Laureate)

Sorensen Morten (Columbia University)

Spiegel Matthew (Yale University)

Stevenson Betsey (University of Pennsylvania)

Stokey Nancy (University of Chicago)

Strahan Philip (Boston College)

Strebulaev Ilya (Stanford University)

Sufi Amir (University of Chicago)

Tabarrok Alex (George Mason University)

Taylor Alan M. (UC Davis)

Thompson Tim (Northwestern University)

Tschoegl Adrian E. (University of Pennsylvania)

Uhlig Harald (University of Chicago)

Ulrich, Maxim (Columbia University)

Van Buskirk Andrew (University of Chicago)

Veronesi Pietro (University of Chicago)

Vissing-Jorgensen Annette (Northwestern University)

Wacziarg Romain (UCLA)

Weill Pierre-Olivier (UCLA)

Williamson Samuel H. (Miami University)

Witte Mark (Northwestern University)

Wolfers Justin (University of Pennsylvania)

Woutersen Tiemen (Johns Hopkins University)

Zingales Luigi (University of Chicago)

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