Bailout v/s bankruptcy- Which one is better?

Nov 16, 2011

In this issue:
» Why big US banks should be broken up into smaller ones...
» IPO process to be overhauled to check price manipulation
» Indian FMCG retail could touch US$100 billion by 2025
» Does India deserve a better credit rating?
» ...and more!
----------------------------- Now get free daily updates on Global Economy! -----------------------------

Will Italy be able to get back on its feet again?

Will Euro die faster than the Dollar?

Will China now replace US as the new superpower?

Know all that's going on in the global markets through the free daily financial e-column The Daily Reckoning.

Authored by Bill Bonner, a three-time New York Times best-selling author, the Daily Reckoning is published in 3 languages and is read by millions of people across the globe.

Sign up now for free updates on global markets!


We are living in times when bailouts are very common across the globe, including our own country. In simple terms, a bailout is a situation where in a failing business is saved from bankruptcy by capital infusion, usually by the government. Back in 2008, when the Indian markets crumbled on the back of the US financial crisis, the government bailed out many sectors that were adversely impacted. Ditto is the case in the European Union (EU) and the US. In order to salvage the euro, the EU is bailing out highly indebted economies like Greece, Ireland and Portugal. In 2008, the US had bailed out banks, investment banks and the automakers. The list is indeed quite long.

In more recent times, there has been a lot of hoopla about whether Kingfisher Airlines, which is facing a serious cash crunch, should be bailed out or not. Of course, we believe that market forces should decide whether a business should survive or shut down. After all, bailing out a business means using public money to save a private enterprise. Society cannot operate on the principle of privatised profits and socialised losses. Moreover, bailouts send out the wrong signals. They incentivise businesses to be reckless, that no matter what they do, the government is always going to come to their rescue. Of course, there is no denying that there can be times when bailouts may be necessary. But they should be reserved only for such rare cases wherein there is a threat of a system-wide collapse.

Going back to the case of Kingfisher Airlines, another question that arises is whether the airline company is right in asking for a bailout. We don't think so. The simple reason being that tomorrow if the company were to make record profits, will it be willing to share those with the taxpayer? Certainly not! How then can it expect to be bailed out using the very same taxpayer's money? Nevertheless, there is a section of society out there that favours a bailout of the embattled firm. For us though, the choice has been clear right from day one. Please do not get us wrong. We are not against the firm and we believe that Kingfisher Airlines is one of the better airlines around. But we have issues with any firm being bailed out. As the developed world has shown, a bailout only amounts to kicking the can down the road and does not solve the real problem. Thus, for a full blown recovery, either a restructuring or a complete elimination of the issue at hand is required.

According to you, should failing businesses be bailed out or allowed to go bankrupt? Share your comments with us or post your views on Facebook page / Google+ page.

 Chart of the day
In the Indian pharmaceutical industry, there have been about 4,000 product launches on an average over the last four years. However, with only 1,400 new launches for the first nine months of 2011 (up till September), the show has been dismal. A remarkable increase in competition and a decreasing pipeline of new molecules are being cited as some of the main reasons for this decline. Since every molecule has about 30-40 competitors, pharma companies will now have to focus more on product differentiation. As such, those companies that lack product development capability will be adversely affected.

Data source: Business Standard
*Figure upto September, 2011

Anyone who has dabbled a bit in Economics would know that monopolies are generally bad for an economy. They are capable of artificially reducing supplies and thus, increasing the price so that exorbitant profits can be made. But the recent crisis in the US has shown that besides being seekers of unfair amounts of profit, monopolies also pose systemic risks to an economy. Well, the US financial sector may not exactly be monopolistic but the fact remains that it is extremely concentrated with assets of five institutions comprising half the industry's total assets. Thus, breaking up these big banks into still smaller ones may be the right thing to do as far as the stability of the US banking system is concerned. This point was highlighted by one of the presidents at the US Federal Reserve. "I believe that too-big-to-fail banks are too-dangerous-to-permit," he is believed to have said. Well, we couldn't have agreed more. But the big question is whether the vested interests would let this happen at all.

The fact that stock markets have ceased to be the most preferred means for raising capital is not lost on the regulator. A few days ago we had written about the stock markets around the world seeing fewer listings and new issuances. The Indian IPO (Initial Public Offering) market has also been the victim of unrealistic pricing and the focus on 'listing gains' which rarely do enough to reward shareholders in the long run. In addition, inadequate compliance with KYC (know your customer) rules have deterred potential capital issuers and investors. The first half of the financial year 2011-12 (FY12) saw 30 companies raising funds to the tune of Rs 50 bn through IPOs. The government's own disinvestment plans have gone awry due to resistance to approach capital markets. SEBI (Securities & Exchange Board of India) is therefore now considering expediting the clearance of IPO offer documents. Companies will have a one-year time to come out with public offers from the date of SEBI clearance. Also, the KYC guidelines will be eased for better compliance. With such policies and better checks in place, the Indian capital markets could certainly serve companies and investors a lot better.

India has been a land of dualities where the affluent urban India residing in cities and towns co-exist with the much larger rural India made up of rustic villages. The stark economic divide led the FMCG industry to focus more on the consuming urban India which accounts for a major share of 66% of the overall consumer good sales. However growing rural prosperity from government sponsored employment programs and rising farm income is slowly changing equations. Picture this, consumer goods such as biscuits, toilet soaps, washing powder, packaged tea and iodised salt contributed more than 40% to overall category sales in FY11. As per market research agency Nielsen, rural India is driving growth in more than 50% of the large consumer good categories.

The per-capita expenditure in rural market is half that of the urban market. But with 150 million households, rural India is nearly three times bigger than urban India holding immense potential demand. Nielsen has forecasted rural FMCG sales to leapfrog from the current US$ 12 bn to US$ 100 bn by 2025. As per the research agency, factors such as higher demand for premium products, brand consciousness and shift from occasional to regular consumption will be the future demand drivers in rural India. FMCG companies have been scrambling to grab a share of the growing clout of rural India. But companies such Hindustan Unilever Ltd (HUL) and ITC Ltd which have developed a strong rural network have a distinct advantage.

In the world of crisis, every country is worried about its credit rating. Be it France or US or the crisis hit PIIGS (Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain). Everyone is worried. Even India. Don't worry, unlike others India is not worried that it would be downgraded. Instead what it wants is for agencies like Moody's to upgrade its credit rating. Currently India's domestic debt and foreign debt are rated as Baa3 (moderate risk) and Ba1 (questionable credit quality) respectively. But these ratings were assigned way back in 2004. The Indian government argues that a lot has changed since. The country has shown growth and resilience even through the current global crisis. At the same time, the government has shown commitment towards reforms. The latter of course is questionable as the government has just 'talked' about reforms and has not really 'carried out' any reforms. But the former point definitely holds true. India certainly deserves some credit for its resilient growth, even if it is just in the form of a credit rating. Not that the ratings have helped any country much but it definitely adds to the 'feel good' factor.

In the meanwhile, the Indian stock markets were trading in the red after opening on a weak note. At the time of writing, the BSE Sensex was down by 154 points (0.9%). Barring FMCG, all sectoral indices were trading in the negative. Red marks were seen across entire Asia with China (down 2.5%) and Hong Kong (down 2.4%) being the top losers.

 Today's investing mantra
"Much success can be attributed to inactivity. Most investors cannot resist the temptation to constantly buy and sell." - Warren Buffett

Today's Premium Edition.

Recent Articles

All Good Things Come to an End... April 8, 2020
Why your favourite e-letter won't reach you every week day.
A Safe Stock to Lockdown Now April 2, 2020
The market crashc has made strong, established brands attractive. Here's a stock to make the most of this opportunity...
Sorry Warren Buffett, I'm Following This Man Instead of You in 2020 March 30, 2020
This man warned of an impending market correction while everyone else was celebrating the renewed optimism in early 2020...
China Had Its Brawn. It's Time for India's Brain March 23, 2020
The post coronavirus economic boom won't be led by China.

Equitymaster requests your view! Post a comment on "Bailout v/s bankruptcy- Which one is better?". Click here!

35 Responses to "Bailout v/s bankruptcy- Which one is better?"

Dr M.Chandrashekhar

Mar 6, 2012

Why should Govt Bail out King Fisher ? Mr Mallya & the rest of Board should be shown the door. KingFisher smacks of poor professionalism .They blew their money recklessly knowing fully well that their corrupt political friends will bail them out. They managed to survive so far inspite of poor governance. Even if Govt bails them out, Vijay Mallya & his cohorts have no place there.


Sarat Palat

Nov 29, 2011

Failing business should not be bailed out whether it is a public entity or a private one. Here, the question is "Kingfisher". The company is not requesting for a bailout in order to tide over the situation. They are trying their level best by negotiating with the creditors and am sure they will get it done. What is happening to Air india ? For the last how many years it is getting Govt. life support? and did the condition and service improved? Just to keep a few people on job the tax payers money should not be wasted like this. It is high time the whole thing has to be revamped. Let the Govt. hold the major share and keep out of the day to day operation which should be handed over to professionals who could run the show.


Sundar Rangan

Nov 21, 2011

Obviously Government bailing out a private sector company is not warranted and should not be done. Having said that, the Government must adopt a level-field policy. In the airlines sector, Air India, known for its high cost and inefficiencies, is assured of continuous fund infusion from Govt of India. It is therefore able to cut fares without bothering about its costs and incur further losses, which are ultimately borne by the tax-payer. Airlines like Kingfisher are forced to compete in such a skewed market, which is definitely not fair. Further, govt. should revise its irrational policies in respect of tax on aviation fuel, airport taxes, FDI in aviation etc.



Nov 19, 2011

what contribution Mally is giving in public interest through Kingfisher/UB engg/United Brewaries? Most of the times the investors are left guessing what is happening in these outfits of Mally.He woos govt.on the carrat of revenues from his brewaries and bgovt turns blind eye to his juglaries in other.And it is no secret that concerned govt agencies act vulnerable volunteerly for personal interests that be.



Nov 19, 2011

When Maharaja is eligible for such gratuitous excesses why not King of good times? Just because KF is a private enterprise it cannot be considered for such gratuitous excesses. Anyway the taxpayers (ass in the definition of democracy) are going bear the brunt in the end. The maximum what it will do just whimper for sometime and then forget about it as he has some new things to tackle.



Nov 17, 2011

Kingfisher is a private business,let the private business to remain PRIVATE. There is no ground to introduce PUBLIC MONEY to bail out.


Sai N

Nov 17, 2011

I don't think we should jump to conclusions so quickly. Witness the 'bailout' of General Motors and Chrysler in the US. The US taxpayer will be getting repaid all of their money - given the way GM has come out of the hole it had dug for itself, helped partially by greedy unions and even more greedy bosses. The formula used is simple. A bailout happens only if the company files for bankruptcy. The result is that the debtors are forced to negotiate with the bankruptcy court on how much money they will get, and how much equity they could get if/when the company comes out of bankruptcy.

The government also gets a large equity stake in the reorganised company and, if they are able to manage their affairs properly and emerge as a pretty butterfly from the cocoon of bankruptcy, the debtors and government can take their profits whenever they want.

Similar cases are also available in the private sector - witness the bailout of Goldman Sachs and Bank of America by uncle Buffet. Of course, he stands to make a fat dividend and has some warrants to buy equity in the company in the future.

Thus all bailouts need not be tarred with the same brush.



Nov 17, 2011

Why help "Daaroo King" Vijay Mallya...? The huge Corruption and Black Money in Liquor Industry is well know....
When Corporate make Profits....Top Brass takes Hefty Pay, makes all sorts of Luxury Expenses, Make Black Money, to put in SWISS A/C, Real Estate (& boost Inflation by destroying Agri land).
But, When they run into losses, Govt i.e. Tax Payer/Common Man should Bail them out...!! Shame..



Nov 16, 2011

KFA asking for bail out/concessions is ridiculous. UB group/Mr.Vijay Mallya have accumulated thousands of crores of wealth and Mr.Mallya is leading a lavish lifestyle. Let him bring in funds, if he wants his company to survive and let not taxpayers/banks be punished for Mr.Mallya's fancies.



Nov 16, 2011

Kingfisher does not deserve to be sympathised. The financial cancer has reached the fifth stage with point of no retirn. MR Mallya hs approched the men at helm when everything is lost. Moreover he is so much engrossed in IPL that he can not concentrate on revival of the firm.
Many a time our nation was on the verge of being in the debt trap where it can ill afford funding of such an outfit, not to forget the the public protest.

M.C. VAHALIA 17/11/2011.

Equitymaster requests your view! Post a comment on "Bailout v/s bankruptcy- Which one is better?". Click here!