Does it ‘cost’ anything to nationalise a company?

longandvariable

Labour’s manifesto reveals that they intend to re-nationalise water companies if they are elected.  How much would this ‘cost’? was many people’s response.  For example, the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg noted that a ‘costing’ of this policy was omitted from the manifesto.

The nationalisation would happen by the government selling debt to the market, and using the money raised to buy shares [presumably at least a majority, perhaps all] in the company.   There are questions about which internationally acredited accounting conventions this borrowing would be included under, and which it would not.  But this issue is not very interesting [to me, anyway].

The interesting thing is to think through the economic consequences and ‘costs’ of the policy.

Supposing that the fair price for the assets were knowable, and that the cost of doing the transaction was small, in principle the company could be sold again at some point in the future…

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