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Levitt: Banks Will Be Nationalized

Wednesday, 21 Jan 2009 10:49 AM

Some experts have argued that U.S. banks should be nationalized.

Arthur Levitt, a former Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) chairman goes a step farther: He says our banks will be nationalized.

“The whole question of ringing banks, of having good banks and bad banks doesn’t make sense. Clearly we’re moving toward nationalizing banks,” Levitt, a senior advisor to private equity firm Carlyle Group, told Bloomberg TV,

The government has to choose winners and losers among the banks, Levitt says. “Nothing less will work.”

That’s not the favored policy of the Obama administration, but “it’s being pushed toward that,” he says. “The whole idea of forcing banks to lend is a populist notion. To whom are they going to lend? I don’t think there’s demand from borrowers out there.”

The government can’t force banks to lend, Levitt says. “At most, the government can jawbone.”

Levitt sees the regulatory structure changing radically.

“There is no longer a brokerage industry for the SEC to regulate,” he says. “The SEC and the CFTC (Commodity Futures Trading Commission) are likely to be merged.”

Levitt fears over-regulation. “You can’t carry this too far,” he says. “Businesses already are choked by lack of funds. You can’t choke them more with regulations.”

Stock price declines make nationalization more likely, note others.

While bank nationalization is a last resort, “that last resort doesn't seem so far removed at this point, particularly because of valuations,” James Smith, chief executive of Webster Financial Corp. in Waterbury, Conn., told The Wall Street Journal.

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Some experts have argued that U.S. banks should be nationalized. Arthur Levitt, a former Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) chairman goes a step farther: He says our banks will be nationalized. “The whole question of ringing banks, of having good banks and bad banks...
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2009-49-21
Wednesday, 21 Jan 2009 10:49 AM
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