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I remember just a few months ago, Mervyn King et. al. were quite harsh on the US and the Federal Reserve for coddling  our markets instead of having it take its medicine. Fast forward few months and a few billion pounds of "bailout money" and here we have the same crew nationalizing banks. Hmmm!!!

 The US may have some rough waters ahead, but we damn sure won't be swimming in them alone!

Alistair Darling on Sunday announced the first nationalisation of a sizable British bank in a quarter of a century as he put Northern Rock into public ownership, infuriating shareholders and shocking the two private bidders hoping to take over the stricken mortgage lender.

Visibly concerned to avoid queues forming outside branches this morning, the chancellor and Ron Sandler, Northern Rock's new executive chairman, insisted it would be "business as usual".

News of an emergency loan to Northern Rock from the Bank of England last September triggered the first run on a British bank in more than a century. The government has been trying since then to find a buyer for the bank that would enable the £25bn in Bank of England loans to be repaid.

Shares in the bank, which closed at 90p on Friday, will be suspended this morning and shareholders can expect virtually no compensation for their equity.

Mr Darling said the legislation to be brought to parliament on Monday would appoint independent arbiters to determine what the shares were worth, but the legislation would propose that the government should not be required to compensate shareholders for any value that is dependent on taxpayers' support.

The government's move stunned shareholders, who were last night considering action. Jon Wood of the SRM hedge fund, the bank's biggest shareholder, said: "This is a very sad day for the stock market, banking industry and the reputation of the UK as a financial centre."

Noting that the chancellor insisted the bank was solvent, he added: "We will pursue all avenues to protect that value for shareholders."

Robin Ashby, founder of the Northern Rock small shareholders group, said he was "shocked and appalled" that shareholders "were having the bank stolen away from them".