With the advent of neoliberal/revived neoclassical financial deregulation and liberalization over the past 30 years, asset bubbles and debt deflation have become serious problems again all over the world.
The first major victim was Japan, where ill-advised financial deregulation in the 1980s set Japan up for its massive property bubble that burst in 1991, leading to the lost decade. The US and other countries have now been hit by a similar disaster: bursting housing bubbles financed by high private debt, and leading to debt deflation and private sector balance sheets in a terrible state.
The bailouts in 2008 in the US and the UK and other nations have been widely criticised, and a far better type of bailout was employed by the Swedish government for its financial crisis in 1992. In Sweden, financial deregulation in the 1980s caused a flurry of real estate lending by Swedish banks, and when the bubble finally popped in 1991 and 1992 there was a major economic contraction. Bank failures and a financial crisis occurred. The Swedish solution? Here it is as described in the New York Times:
“Sweden told its banks to write down their losses promptly before coming to the state for recapitalization … later in the decade, Japan made the mistake of dragging this process out, delaying a solution for years …. By the end of the crisis, the Swedish government had seized a vast portion of the banking sector, and the agency had mostly fulfilled its hard-nosed mandate to drain share capital before injecting cash. When markets stabilized, the Swedish state then reaped the benefits by taking the banks public again …. Soon after the plan was announced, the Swedish government found that international confidence returned more quickly than expected, easing pressure on its currency and bringing money back into the country.”This type of bailout and cleaning of the financial system was far superior to Japan’s failed bailouts in the 1990s and the US bailout of 2008.
Carter Dougherty, “Stopping a Financial Crisis, the Swedish Way,” New York Times, September 22, 2008.
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