James Saft Great Debate – James Saft is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

The U.S. policy of keeping zombie financial institutions alive is so clearly failing that it is now attracting attack from inside policymakers’ circle of covered wagons.

The most interesting intervention in the banking debate in the past few weeks was an extraordinary attack by Kansas City Federal Reserve President Thomas Hoenig on what he termed a policy of “piecemeal” nationalization which leaves discredited management in place, repels new capital from the banking system and allows bad assets to fester rather than be cleared.

This is no academic who can be dismissed as having a poor grasp of the major systemic consequences of letting the big zombies fall, this is the man who has been a Fed president for 17 years and has a deep history in banking regulation, deeper and with more practical experience arguably than the people making the policies in Washington.

“If an institution’s management has failed the test of the marketplace, these mangers should be replaced. They should not be given public funds and then micro-managed, as we are now doing under TARP, with a set of political strings attached,” Hoenig said.