Boy, couldn't see this one coming, huh?
Bankruptcy. Red ink. Painful shakeout.
Those terms, normally associated with old-line manufacturing, now are popping up to describe what was seen just three years ago as a sure bet for Indiana: high-tech ethanol plants.
Ethanol producers across the Midwest are being squeezed by falling prices, tight credit, overbuilding and the volatile market for corn. As a result, many have seen their profits shrink and their stock prices fall. Several have slid into bankruptcy and have scrapped deals and projects.
Some of the problems with ethanol were foreseeable (we're messing with the food supply to fix the fuel supply, after all) and some were not (the financial collapse is hurting everyone). But it was certainly a risk, one that would not even have been possible to take without government subsidies. Why am I scared about the auto bailout? Not because government screws up just about everything it touches. Because people who should know better just keep thinking maybe next time government will get it right. Like a bunch of damn Cubs fans.