Fixing TARP: Is Transparency Enough?

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 is 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.