When this sort of information goes mainstream (CNBC), it’s time to batten down the hatches.
Given the speed at which the federal government is throwing money at the financial crisis, the average taxpayer, never mind member of Congress, might not be faulted for losing track.
CNBC, however, has been paying very close attention and keeping a running tally of actual spending as well as the commitments involved.
Try $4.28 trillion dollars. That’s $4,284,500,000,000 and more than what was spent on WW II, if adjusted for inflation, based on our computations from a variety of estimates and sources*.
Not only is it a astronomical amount of money, its’ a complicated cocktail of budgeted dollars, actual spending, guarantees, loans, swaps and other market mechanisms by the Federal Reserve, the Treasury and other offices of government taken over roughly the last year, based on government data and news releases. Strictly speaking, not every cent is a direct result of what’s called the financial crisis, but it is arguably related to it.
Some 68-percent of the sum falls under the Federal Reserve’s umbrella, while another 16 percent is the under the Troubled Asset Relief Program, TARP, as defined under the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act, signed into law in early October.
Note: 4284.5 billion = $4.2845 trillion. Or a stack of thousand dollar bills 299 miles high. If you were on the space shuttle you’d still have 100 miles of thousand dollar bills towering above your head.