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Bailouts and Preemptive Strikes--Skeel

One of many interesting questions I was asked while presenting a paper called “Bankruptcy or Bailouts?” at Professor Ted Janger’s bankruptcy seminar at Brooklyn Law School yesterday was whether there’s a connection between the ethos that led to the Bush adminstration’s preemptive strike policy and the Obama administration’s enthusiasm for bailouts. The question echoed a thought I’ve had often in the last few months. The Bush administration was criticized (fairly, in my view) for its secrecy and its “my way or the highway” attitude on foreign policy issues. Barack Obama campaigned against this ethos, and his administration has been far more transparent on foreign policy. Yet when it comes to economic issues, the Obama administration’s key financial regulators have been as high-handed and opaque as the Bush administration was on foreign policy.

 A preemptive strike is a little like a military version of a bailout.  And the ethos that produced that policy seems to have migrated, in the Obama administration, from military issues to economic ones.

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