Monday, February 16, 2009

I say "expropriate", you say "enteignet", we could never do a duet ( or maybe we could)

About a minute after I posted the last entry, I clicked onto the home page of the Munich Süddeutsche Zeitung and the lead story was Hypo Real Estate: Die Pflicht zur Enteignung 15.02.2009 (Hypo Real Estate: The Duty of Expropriation). The author, Heribert Prantl, writes of the deal relating a collapsing real estate lender:

Is state socialism breaking into Germany this week? Is [conservative Prime Minister] Angela Merkel introducing a smidgen of Communism? The Cabinet will approve a law that allows the expropriation of stockholders of a financial institution; the state will reserve the right to take over their shares of the Hypo Real Estate (HRE) by compulsion.

To a classical free marketeer, such an action by the state has been regarded up until now as a mortal sin, as a capital crime against the economy and the security of property. But this expropriation is no social-revolutionary act, it isn't even an instrument of social reform. It is also no device to increase the property of the state, but rather a small attempt to maintain it.
The latter refers to the fact that the German government injected capital into HRE (i.e, bought shares) to the tune of 100 billion euros and if the company goes under, that public investment would be lost.

This expropriation thing could catch on. Who would have thought even a year ago that nationalizing the biggest financial institutions would so soon become the prudent, "pro-business" solution to the failure of the world's private financial system?

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