Writing in the Financial Times on January 27th, 2009, Peter Boone and I expressed our opposition to bank nationalization in no uncertain terms,
If you want to end up with the economy of Pakistan, the politics of Ukraine, and the inflation rate of Zimbabwe, bank nationalization is the way to go.
Most others who recently advocated a managed bankruptcy process – or FDIC-type intervention – for big banks (with or without the injection of new government capital) were careful, at least initially, to avoid using the word nationalization. And many took pains to explain in detail why their proposals were quite different from nationalization.
But at some point this became a debate in which informed bystanders perceived the sides as being for or against “nationalization” – a semiotic transition that has obviously helped the big bankers, at least in the short term.
This weekend’s comment competition is in two parts. Who first made “nationalization” the central word for the U.S. bank discussion? And who was most influential in establishing that the national debate be defined in these terms?