Why Firms are Nationalized?

One might assume that government ownership of the factors of production is found only in communist or socialist countries, but that assumption is incorrect. Large segments of business are owned by the governments of many countries that do not consider themselves either communist or socialist. From country to country, there are wide differences in the industries that are government owned and in the extent of government ownership.

There are a number of reasons, sometimes overlapping, why governments put their hands on firms. Some of them are 1) to extract more money from the firms—the government suspects that the firms are concealing profits; 2) an extension of the first reason—the government  believes it could run the firms more efficiently and make more money; 3) ideological—when left-wing governments are elected, they sometimes nationalize industries, as has occurred in Britain, France, and Canada; 4) to catch votes as politicians save jobs by putting dying industries on life-support systems, which can be disconnected after the election; 5) because the government has pumped money into a firm or an industry, and control usually follows money; and 6) happenstance, as with the nationalization after World war 11 of German-owned firms in Europe.

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