As the government spends $700 billion in taxpayer funds to "bail out" financial institutions — by, in substance, buying bad assets, "voluntarily" extracting preferred stock from banks, and other steps — voters hear that the government will recover much of the cost by selling those assets back to the private sector.

As I listen to this, it calls to my mind the 14 years I spent as a lawyer representing the buyers of the last round of semi-nationalized U.S. banks: the hapless people who bought the banks (loaded with bad assets) that the government seized in the last financial crisis, the savings and loan crisis of the late 1980s.

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.