Wednesday, September 1, 2010

One way for states and cities to cut budget deficits

Sell assets.  WSJ writes about various state and local governments who have decided to convert various properties into revenue streams.  You name it: office buildings, airports, parking meters, toll roads, and zoos have all been auctioned off to the highest bidder. 

What does this mean for economic well-being?  The good news for consumers is that private owners are likely to run these assets more efficiently than state or local governments.  The not-so-good news is the substitution of private for public monopoly could mean higher prices and less output.  Also, asset sales provide one time relief -- you can only sell I-95 off once.  Unless state and local governments take other steps to bring their income in line with their expenditures, these sales only postpone the ultimate day of reckoning. 

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