Do economists oppose the bailout bill?

No! You might think otherwise from various incautious commentaries, including the economist's letter written a while back. (The letter said "go slow"; it didn't say "do nothing.") And it is true that most economists don't like the original Paulson plan, and also don't like the plan passed by the Senate. But the view that we are currently in a serious financial crisis—the worst since the Great Depression—is, as far as I can tell, unanimous. The view is based on readily accessible data on the credit crisis—including the TED spread—and overwhelming anecdotal evidence of financial institutions failing or hoarding capital and businesses having trouble obtaining credit. And the view that the government should engage in a massive intervention of some sort is nearly unanimous. The idea that governments should address financial crises by injecting liquidity in the system is not some new-fangled idea dreamed up by socialists, but conventional wisdom, proved again and again by experience, going back many decades. The problem is that every economist has his own theory about the proper solution. There is some convergence on the idea of recapitalization of financial institutions, which the current bill authorizes only indirectly (but which the Fed already has authority to do, as we saw with AIG), but otherwise there are as many views as there are economists.

Here is the problem. You are a member of Congress, and n economists tell you that they don't like the bill you are about to vote on. When you ask these economists what the better approach is, you get n different answers. When you tell them that your only real choice is to vote up or down on this bill, they tell you that this bill is better than nothing. I have found plenty of criticism of the various plans by economists on the web, but it is very hard to find a single mainstream economist (the closest is thisone, but even he thinks something should be done) who unequivocally states that we will be better off with no regulation than with a flawed plan.

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  2. Do economists oppose the bailout bill?