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March 27, 2012

Bailout Braggadocio Doesn't Pay in the End

We have all done it. We start playing a game, be it Scrabble or a pickup soccer match, thinking it is just for fun, that the result doesn’t really matter.

But those noble feelings quickly melt in the heat of the battle. We want to win, vanquish our opponents and let everybody know about it.

The financial crisis of 2008-2009 was no game, but the same primordial urge to triumph seems to be informing the U.S. government’s recent approach to its bailout programs. Every time it announces a new “result”—the repayment by a rescued bank, a profit on securities bought during the turmoil, an improvement in some hard-hit market—it extols the success of those efforts.

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