Sweden’s Bank Nationalisations: Are there lessons for today?
Published: March 2009
Many banks are on the verge of bankruptcy and have received support from the government to stay afloat. Measures taken have not sufficed, and an increasing number of economists and commentators are calling for the nationalisation of banks in the United Kingdom and United States. In their advocacy, they use Sweden as an exemplar, suggesting that massive bank nationalisation was the way it fixed its collapsing banking sector in the early 1990s. This account of Sweden’s resolution policy is erroneous and exaggerates the role of nationalisation. Sweden successfully combated a banking crisis, and two banks received full government ownership. The main example of nationalisation, however, was a financial reconstruction of a bank already controlled by the government. The only real example of nationalisation of a privately owned bank hardly offers lessons for ways to resolve the current banking crisis.