Adam Ozimek, defending his equating the bailout of AIG with GM:

I don’t have hard evidence for this, but I’m pretty sure economists in general are more supportive of the bailout of AIG than the bailout of GM.

I am more than willing to believe he is right about this, but I don’t think it demonstrates what he thinks it demonstrates. Why would economists be more supporting of bailing out AIG than GM for reasons other than "objectively the economics mitigate much more in favor of the former"?

  • Economists are more likely to know people who work for AIG than GM.
  • Economists are more like the people who work for AIG than GM.
  • Economists are more likely to live in the places that would be directly affected by AIG’s collapse than places that would be directly affected by GM’s collapse.
  • Economists put much more time and effort into understanding the workings of financial firms than manufacturing firms and therefore the consequences of AIG’s collapse are much clearer to them.
  • Economists tend to believe that, presuming widespread liquidly and availability of credit, economies quickly heal from the collapse of individual firms, no matter how large. This would mitigate into preserving AIG, which would preserved widespread liquidity and availability of credit.
  • Economists dislike labor unions and are loathe to support government intervention to support their interests.
  • Economists are more likely to live in communities where most of the cars are not manufactured by the American Big 3.
  • Economists were more likely to believe that AIG was a "fundamentally" healthy firm facing a short-term problem, whereas GM was a "fundamentally" unhealthy firm in need of perpetual propping-up.
  • Economists didn’t understand or sufficiently consider the impact of GM’s collapse on its supply chain or GMAC.
  • Economists, even those who don’t subscribe to this view explicitly, feel emotional resonance with Austrian-style or Hoover-era-style arguments about needing to "clean out the rot" in the economy or to require "corrections" that purge the economy and require some period of suffering.
  • Economists are more likely to envision a future paycheck coming from AIG than GM.

This doesn’t really tell you anything about the relative merits of bailing out AIG or GM (for the record, I would have done both, but done both somewhat differently than they were done), but it does tell you something, I think, about sitting v standing.

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