nancylebov (nancylebov) wrote,
nancylebov
nancylebov

How the Swedes handled a housing bubble

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/23/business/worldbusiness/23krona.html?_r=2&oref=slogin&oref=slogin

Sweden did not just bail out its financial institutions by having the government take over the bad debts. It extracted pounds of flesh from bank shareholders before writing checks. Banks had to write down losses and issue warrants to the government.

That strategy held banks responsible and turned the government into an owner. When distressed assets were sold, the profits flowed to taxpayers, and the government was able to recoup more money later by selling its shares in the companies as well.

“If I go into a bank,” said Bo Lundgren, who was Sweden’s finance minister at the time, “I’d rather get equity so that there is some upside for the taxpayer.”

Sweden spent 4 percent of its gross domestic product, or 65 billion kronor, the equivalent of $11.7 billion at the time, or $18.3 billion in today’s dollars, to rescue ailing banks. That is slightly less, proportionate to the national economy, than the $700 billion, or roughly 5 percent of gross domestic product, that the Bush administration estimates its own move will cost in the United States.

A couple of points. Being socialist in some sense (I've heard that Sweden actually has more freedom of commerce than the US, it's just that it also has a very strong safety net) didn't protect Sweden from having a housing bubble.

If the NYT article is the whole story, then Sweden didn't especially punish the individuals who were most responsible. It focused on punishing institutions.

Link thanks to patrissimo.
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