Tags: bailout | total | trillions

Bailout Cost Now Exceeds $7.7 Trillion

By    |   Monday, 24 Nov 2008 01:59 PM

Critics are raising concerns about the "transparency" of the federal bailout now that the Federal Reserve has promised to lend banks a total of more than $7.7 trillion, an unprecedented intervention in the financial system not seen since the 1930s.

The rising total increases the systemic risk faced by the U.S. taxpayer, experts say.

The biggest risk comes from rescuing firms that are seen as "too big to fail," William Poole, former president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Saint Louis, told Bloomberg News. "No question there is some credit risk there," Poole said.

The government has publicly promised $2.8 trillion, including the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP), which was approved by the Congress on Oct. 3.

But the Federal Reserve began to purchase $2.4 billion in commercial paper, or short-term notes, which companies rely on to pay bills, on Oct. 27. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) then promised $1.4 trillion to guarantee interbank loans on Oct. 14.

Earlier this year, the government promised $29 billion for the takeover of Bear Stearns by JPMorgan Chase & Co. and $122.8 billion for insurance giant, American International Group (AIG).

Just this week, Citigroup obtained $306 billion in government guarantees to buy bad mortgages and other so-called "toxic assets." Then the Treasury Department said it is infusing $20 billion into Citibank, as a result of its stock falling 60 percent last week.

There are also other financial risks that need to be considered.

"The thing that people don't understand is it's not how likely that the exposure becomes a reality, but what if it does," Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), a member of the House Financial Services Committee, told Bloomberg.

"There's no transparency to it, so who's to say they're right?"

The funds that are being pledged are truly eye-popping, now approximately $24,000 for every person in the country. That is "nine times what the United States has spent so far on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

By contrast, the bailout of the savings and loans in the 1990s cost $209.5 billion. The U.S. bailout of Chrysler Corp. in 1979 cost $4.2 billion.

The bailouts are expected to continue to grow in scope during the next presidency.

During his radio address on Saturday, President-elect Barack Obama said that his economic stimulus plan "will be a two-year, nationwide effort to jumpstart job creation in America and lay the foundation for a strong and growing economy."

Some are urging restraint and caution, however. Former Treasury Secretary James Baker, appearing on Meet the Press, said the economy was facing difficulties in the early 1980s, but, with President Reagan as a free market advocate, he recommended that the car companies and banks downsize, and reposition themselves, to compete, globally.

"I had a lot of car companies banging on my desk as Treasury Secretary," said Baker.

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Critics are raising concerns about the "transparency" of the federal bailout now that the Federal Reserve has promised to lend banks a total of more than $7.7 trillion, an unprecedented intervention in the financial system not seen since the 1930s. The rising total...
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2008-59-24
Monday, 24 Nov 2008 01:59 PM
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