Government swoops in
History offers a recipe for nationalizing banks: Do it as a last resort, but don't dawdle, don't mix politics and banking, and get out of the business as soon as possible.
Year of nationalization: 1945
Resolution: Privatized in 1999
Final cost: $19 billion
Summary: The bank retained considerable autonomy until a lending spree that began in the late 1980s soured in the early 1990s. The cost of the necessary rescue cured the government of its desire to own the company.
Verdict: Public ownership was bad for business.
Year of nationalization: 1984
Resolution: Privatized in 1991
Final cost: $1.1 billion
Summary: The nation's 7th-largest bank grew through aggressive lending to energy companies and other businesses. Rising defaults forced a series of bailouts ending with the government taking an 80 percent stake.
Verdict: Critics say unnecessary nationalization damages economy.
Nordbanken and Gota
Year of nationalization: 1992
Resolution: Privatized in 1995
Final cost: $2.7 billion
Summary: The collapse of a real-estate bubble forced Sweden to nationalize two of its largest banks. It created bad banks to house their troubled assets, merged the remnants and privatized the new company.
Verdict: The poster child for nationalization.
Long-Term Credit Bank
Year of nationalization: 1998
Resolution: Privatized in 2000
Final cost: $1.9 billion
Summary: The massive bank was immobilized by massive losses on commercial real estate loans and stayed that way for almost a decade before the government intervened decisively.
Verdict: Once the government acted, it worked.
Year of nationalization: 2008
Final cost: N/A
Summary: One of the country's largest mortgage lenders lost access to funding as defaults rose, forcing the British government to take "temporary" control.
Verdict: The jury is still out.