Merging two zombie banks is like have two drunks trying to help each other to stand up.
— Nouriel Roubini (RGE Monitor — 02/10/09)
The entire Roubini piece on bank nationalization — or Plan "N" as he calls it — is worth a close read, with these being the key paragraphs:
So why is the US government temporizing and avoiding doing the right thing, i.e. take over the insolvent banks? There are two reasons. First, there is still some small hope and a small probability that the economy will recover sooner than expected, that expected credit losses will be smaller than expected and that the current approach of recapping the banks and somehow working out the bad assets will work in due time. Second, taking over the banks – call is nationalization or, in a more politically correct way, “receivership” – is a radical action that requires most banks be clearly beyond pale and insolvent to be undertaken. Today Citi and Bank of America clearly look like near-insolvent and ready to be taken over but JPMorgan and Wells Fargo do not yet. But with the sharp rise in delinquencies and charge-off rates that we are experiencing now on mortgages, commercial real estate and consumer credit in a matter of six to twelve months even JPMorgan and Wells will likely look as near-insolvent …
…So while Plan A is now underway today’s very negative market response to this Treasury plan suggest that it will not fly. Markets were expecting a more clear plan but also a plan that would bail out shareholders and creditors of insolvent banks. Unfortunately that is not politically and fiscally feasible. It is thus time to start to think and plan ahead for for Plan N (“nationalization” of insolvent banks).
Nouriel pretty much nails it.