Bailout Nation

by: Barry Ritholtz

I have this image in my mind of an American cowboy: Rugged, independent, self-reliant. I picture him on a cattle drive, depending upon only his own wits, his horse, and his trusty Winchester to get by.

This vision of the American past is fast becoming a myth, rendered moot by the present day cowboys. The difference between the two -- not the smell, which is surprisingly similar -- is that the current cowboys have a different cavalry in their back pockets: Uncle Sam.

Indeed, as time goes on, we have become less independent, and more reliant upon the Federal Government -- especially the Federal Reserve -- for Bailouts.

I've been pondering this for some time now, and the longer I think about, the longer the list grows.

Consider the following:

- Great Depression

- Chrysler (1979)

- Steel Industry (date?)

- National Flood Insurance

- Savings and Loan Crisis (1980s)

- Long-Term Capital Management (1998)

- Farm Subsidies (run amok)

- Airlines (post 9/11)

- Dot Com crash (2001)

- Hurricane Hugo, Andrew, Katrina, and other not-so natural disasters (1989, 1992, 2005)

- Housing (2007)

- Bear Stearns (NYSE:BSC) (2008)

- Sub Prime (continuing)

What other bailouts have I missed?

There must be dozens. I am particularly interested in those situations where the profits were private, but the assumption of risk is public.