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East India Company: The Original Too-Big-to-Fail Firm

March 12 (Bloomberg) -- For an institution that has been defunct for almost 150 years, the East India Company still evokes powerful reactions across the world.

Last year, when the Indian government debated allowing foreign companies to open supermarkets there, protesters shouted: “This is the return of the East India Company!” In the U.K., the East India Company’s extraordinary rise and fall have uncanny parallels with the stock-market bubbles and government bailouts that have shaken the economy over the past decade.