All socialists now? — Crooked Timber: A couple of days ago, I thought my call for full-scale nationalisation of the banking sector would remain beyond the pale of political acceptability for at least a week. I badly underestimated the pace at which events are moving. In today’s paper I read the following assessment:
Inevitably, the US, Britain and Europe are going to end up with nationalised banking systems in one form or another, and with governments guaranteeing not only their deposits but probably all their liabilities. The nationalisation will be a temporary emergency measure. But for some time at least the systemically important banks effectively are going to be public utilities and must be regulated accordingly. This taxpayer rescue of banking systems opens up a new and potentially very important avenue for unfreezing bank lending and restoring the flow of credit. If governments effectively control the banks, what is to stop them from demanding that they start lending again?
The source is Alan Wood, probably Australia’s most consistently hardline free-market economics commentator, writing in the Murdoch-owned Australian.
To amplify Wood’s point, the time when the situation might have been salvaged by passive capital injections like the acquisition of preferred shares has passed. Only direct public control, combined with a commitment to salvage the financial system as a whole has any chance of success.