The Swedish Model

Jan 28, 2009 11:52am

ABC News’ Stu Schutzman reports:

No, not the blond in the old Noxzema shaving cream commercial…Some of you might remember her,"take it off, take it all off."  Sorry to disappoint, but the Swedish Model many economists are studying today is one possible fix for the financial mess we’ve gotten ourselves into.

In the early 1990s, Sweden’s banking system collapsed, went under and the government ostensibly took it over (some call it nationalization). Sweden’s major banking problem then, much like our own now, was overwhelming toxic debt.

"Those [banks] that were saddled with the worst assets," says McClatchy online, "were corralled into the financial equivalent of a holding pen."

The government allowed the worst banks to fail; some to merge and in effect, took ownership of all of them using taxpayer money. The boldest move by the Swedes was to create a "bad bank" which absorbed all this bad debt; got it off the books. That allowed the banks to start over with clean balance sheets.

Sweden’s financial crisis ended quickly. No one is suggesting that our own crisis, which is so much bigger and more complex, will end any time soon, but the Swedish Model is getting more and more attention in economic circles. Food for thought when nothing else seems to be doing the job.

And for the record, The Swedish Model appearing in the Noxzema ads was former Miss Sweden, Gunilla Knutson. The ads premiered in 1966 and were wildly popular, especially the one with Super Bowl winning quarterback Joe Namath. "Ladies, want to see Joe Namath get creamed?"…check it out on YouTube.

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