When the housing market crashed bringing down the financial industry along with it (or was it the other way around?), trillions of dollars vanished. The question is where did the money go?
The Federal Reserve along with the Bush administration started propping up the financial industry and the economy beginning in 2007. Mostly this was done quietly with little to no media attention. By the time President Obama was sworn in, taxpayers had already shelled out more than $3.46 trillion and the world economy was on the verge of collapse.
Since Obamas inauguration, the federal government has committed another $3.77 trillion in loans, bailout funds and stimulus spending to stave off what most economists concluded would be a 2nd Great Depression.
And people are outraged! Not at the ones who created this mess and originally hid it from the public. But at the administration who inherited it. That kind of logic could only be demonstrated by the likes of Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Dick Armey. Where are their Teabagger demonstrations against CitiGroup, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo? Wheres the right-wing fury for AIG? Where are the posters calling Bush and Cheney Socialists and Communists for having allowed (or encouraged) this to happen?
More important, wheres the money?
Of the $7.244 trillion total, $168 billion was mailed to taxpayers in the form of stimulus checks. $787 billion is dedicated to stimulus spending on infrastructure and new jobs. $275 billion is targeted at foreclosure relief. And $15 billion is aimed at supporting small businesses.
The rest of the money ($6.167 trillion) went to prop up the very institutions that created the mess. For example, $234 billion went to CitiGroup, $137.5 billion to AIG, $118 billion to Bank of America and $29 billion went to Bear Stearns. Another $700 billion was dedicated to the Troubled Asset Relief Program. $1 trillion was set aside for the Term-Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility to make it less risky for banks to lend money to businesses and consumers. $720 billion was set aside to help banks remove toxic assets from their balance sheets. Indeed, almost all the rest of the money has been allocated to help our banks recover from their own risky behavior.
And it has worked really well for the banks. Thanks to government aid, the CEOs, fund managers, and other financial executives are still able to afford new vacation homes, yachts and other necessities with their bonuses. Theyve been able to raise fees on checking accounts and interest rates on credit cards. And theyve been able to return to the risky behavior that led to this mess in the first place.
Best of all, thanks to their lobbying efforts, paid for in large part by taxpayers money, theyve so far been able to fend off serious regulation.