Can the U.S. learn any lessons from Sweden's banking bailout?

But unlike the United States, whose Treasury has made a proposal to deal with a similar situation, Sweden did not just bail out its financial institutions by having the government take over the bad debts. It also clawed its way back by pugnaciously extracting equity from bank shareholders before the state started writing checks.

That strategy kept banks on the hook while returning profits to taxpayers from the sale of distressed assets by granting warrants that turned the government into an owner. Even the chairman of Sweden's largest bank got a stern answer to the question of whether the state would really nationalize his bank: Yes, we will.

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

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Now there's an idea!

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