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Behind Bush and Obama's $14 Trillion Bailout of Wall Street

  • Behind The Real Size of the Bailout
    A guide to the abbreviations, acronyms, and obscure programs that make up the $14 trillion federal bailout of Wall Street.
    Mother Jones, December 21, 2009
    Straight to the Source

The price tag for the Wall Street bailout is often put at $700 billion-the size of the Troubled Assets Relief Program. But TARP is just the best known program in an array of more than 30 overseen by Treasury Department and Federal Reserve that have paid out or put aside money to bail out financial firms and inject money into the markets. To get a sense of the size of the real $14 trillion bailout, see our chart here. Below, a guide to the pieces of the puzzle:

Treasury Department bailout programs

Money Market Mutual Fund: In September 2008, the Treasury announced that it would insure the holdings of publicly offered money market mutual funds. According to the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP), these guarantees could have potentially cost the federal government more than $3 trillion [PDF].

Public-Private Investment Fund: This joint Treasury-Federal Reserve program bought toxic assets from banks and brokerages-as much as $5 billion of assets per firm. According to SIGTARP, the government's potential exposure from the PPIF is between $500 million and $1 trillion [PDF].

TARP: As part of the Troubled Asset Relief Program, the Treasury has made loans to or investments more than 750 banks and financial institutions. $650 billion has been paid out (not including HAMP; see below). As of December 21, 2009, $117.5 billion of that has been repaid.

Government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) stock purchase: The Treasury has bought $200 million in preferred stock from Fannie Mae and another $200 million from Freddie Mac [PDF] to show that they "will remain viable entities critical to the functioning of the housing and mortgage markets."

GSE mortgage-backed securities purchase: Under the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, the Treasury may buy mortgage-backed securities from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. According to SIGTARP, these purchases could cost as much as $314 billion [PDF].


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