Business Decisions vs. Populist Rage

Includes: F, GM
by: Markham Lee

While things like the above are supposed to be satire, they do a good job of capturing people's views towards providing any kind of Government assistance to struggling companies, namely the idea that they're just helping out greedy morons who are richer than them. Because at the end of the day, isn't that exactly what it feels like?

Still, I think we (voters, citizens, the general populace, et al.) need to be careful when we look at these things, and consider the economic impact (loss of jobs, GDP impact, impact on our own situation) vs. our distaste/dislike for the bailout, government loans, etc. We also need to think about the manner in which the assistance is being offered: Is the Government effectively handing out free money? Will the assistance actually help the company be healthy in the future? Will the taxpayer receive something for their investment? How are the companies receiving assistance being held accountable, etc., etc.?

These situations are rarely as simple as the government just handing money to a moronic CEO, even if that's our gut reaction.

It also means that there is a huge difference between an unnecessary bailout that effectively rewards a company's management for their stupidity, and the government making temporary investments in a company that, while distasteful, will leave the nation better off overall.

This requires our politicians to not only be responsible with our money and ensure that they're making solid investments into the future (as opposed to throwing good money after bad), but to communicate with us properly so that we're aware of all of the facets of each situation, what the expected outcomes are and how the situation is being managed overall. There is a distinct difference between a loan or direct investment in an ailing company, nationalization and a true bailout, which needs to be clearly articulated to the electorate.

At the end of the day I think we (politicians, executives and everyday citizens) need to remember that smart business decisions are going to be what enables our economy to recover, and after we get past our visceral reaction to a situation, we have to get logical and make sure that we're approaching these situations in the right way.

Disclosure: at the time of publishing the author didn't own a position in any of the companies mentioned in this article; the ideas expressed are solely the opinions of the author and shouldn't be viewed as financial or investment advice.