Megan McArdle on whether Solyndra was a good investment

She says it wasn’t. Snip:

Or as Andrew Samwick said, somewhat more briefly, “If you have a risk that the private sector won’t take, it is because the private sector does not see it as a profitable risk to take. It does not get more profitable if the government takes it. It only formally shifts the risk of losses to the taxpayers.”

It’s not enough to say that radical basic research often has unexpected payoffs. This was not a grant to a scientist; it was a loan to a company.  As such, you can’t just judge whether their technology was interesting–but whether the product had a potential market, and if so, whether the company was capable of manufacturing product to meet that market demand.

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