Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Announcing: usfederalbailout.com

Last week I read a solid article by Nicole Gelinas in Investors Business Daily: "Wall St. Bailouts Would Be Invited, Not Prevented, Under Dodd's Bill". Gelinas is a policy analyst at the Manhattan Institute.

So, you say? Dog bites man. Presumably that's the whole point of the Dodd bill: to make Wall Street go cap in hand to the politicians when they get into a mess selling the government's paper. What's the deal?

Here's the deal. The article included a table that listed all the outlays and guarantees that the Feds have made to bail out the finance industry and others since the liquidity crisis of August 2007. You might be interested to know that the total in outlays and guarantees is just a little north of twenty trillion dollars. Yes, that's trillion with a "T".

I gotta have that, I said.

Fortunately, the numbers are easily available from the website of the Special Inspector General for TARP (SIGTARP). SIGTARP issues a quarterly report to Congress, and Gelinas got the numbers from there.

Bingo! I went to the SIGTARP website, downloaded a couple of pdf files, and voila: usfederalbailout.com. Naturally the site uses the world-beating technology of usgovernmentspending.com to present the information in an appealing and compelling fashion just like its sister sites.

However, modesty prevents me from coming up with a single bottom line number like Gelinas because, in my view, outlays and guarantees are apples and oranges. So I have come up with three numbers:

  1. Actual Federal Outlays in securities purchased and money loaned to bailed-out corporations.
  2. Net Federal Outlays including repayment of loans by the bailed-out beneficiaries (for the big banks have mostly paid back their emergency loans).
  3. Federal guarantees. That's the big number, rather like the unfunded liability of Medicare. It starts with the guarantee for Fannie Freddie bonds at $5.5 trillion.

Of course, the site is still under construction, and I have to update some numbers from the St. Louis Fed.

But if you want to know how much all these numbers add up to you'll have to go to usfederalbailout.com. The exercise will do you good.

Now I want to know why the domain usfederalbailout.com was available for little old me. Ain't anyone paying attention out there to all this except me and Nicole?

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