Time to nationalise?

I was going to try to be erudite on my own behalf today. To look at the current difficulties in banking, to consider what’s going on under the bonnet of the …

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19th March 2008 at 11:19 am

I was going to try to be erudite on my own behalf today. To look at the current difficulties in banking, to consider what’s going on under the bonnet of the major lending institutions and to consider what effect this would have on the smaller operators (like SmallBizPod readers) who depend on the institutions for their funding.

I’m not a qualified economist, I grant you, but 20 years spent writing about business issues affecting smaller businesses ought to count for something, I thought. My problem is that other people have got there first, and done it better.

Luckily we’re in the world of blogs, so when I link to the stunningly clear explanation of exactly what’s going wrong by the BBC’s Evan Davis,who writes about the relationship between capital and lending better than anyone I’ve seen. More importantly he addresses the issue of why we should be talking openly about nationalising banks rather than seeing it as some desperate last resort.

I’ll admit I hadn’t thought much beyond the idea that nationalisation was A Bad Thing in economic terms. This is what being brought up in Thatcher’s Britain has done for me; nationalisation to me carries connotations of an outmoded form of politics and economics, and when someone like Davis analyses it objectively as a means to an end and cites examples in which it has worked, I begin to realise how foolish the dogmatic approach actually was (even more so when you consider I didn’t agree with Thatcher anyway).

We may have to consider the idea (he says as if it were up to us mortals) sooner rather than later. A report in the Guardian confirms shares in HBOS are falling even now amid rumours it’s overextended itself. Meanwhile cracks are appearing in the Bank of England and there are signs of a rate cut ahead.

Let’s hope it’s enough and in time.

Guy Clapperton

Guy Clapperton is a freelance journalist who specialises in small business issues and has written for the likes of The Guardian, the FT and the Daily Mirror. Guy has written about finance and franchising for SmallBizPod. http://www.guyclapperton.co.uk

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