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. And there's been quite a jump since we last tabulated things two weeks ago.
Try $7.36 trillion dollars. That's more than double 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 an astronomical amount of money, it's 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 they're all arguably related to it.
The bulk of the sum falls under the Federal Reserve's umbrella, while another good chunk ($700 billion) is the under the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) as defined under the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act, signed into law in early October. (The TARP alone is bigger than virtually any other US government endeavor dating back to the Louisiana Purchase. See slideshow.)
The total figure is a combination of what's been committed (where it is defined) and what has actually been spent or lent (where a given program has started. )
So, for example, we counted the full $800 billion committed Tuesday in the form of measures directed at supporting consumer loan and mortgage-backed securities, even though none has yet been allocated. We counted the full TARP, even though only $320 billion has been spoken for.
Financial Crisis Balance Sheet
|Government Entity||Amount Allocated in Millions of Dollars||Spent/Lent In Millions of Dollars|
|(TAF) Term Auction Credit (allocated)||900000||415302|
|Discount Window Lending||139256|
|Banks (other loans primary credit)||92645|
|Investment Banks (other loans Primary dealer and other broker-dealer credit)||46611|
|Loans to buy ABCP (other loans Asset-backed commercial paper money market mutual fund liquidity facility)||661923|
|AIG (allocated minus Treasury 40B)||112500||87397|
|Bear Stearns (initial loan to JPMorgan)||29500||26919|
|(TSLF) Term Securities Lending Facility||225000||200524|
|Swap Lines (other federal reserve assets)||601963|
|(MMIFF) Money Market Investor Funding Facility (allocated)||540000|
|(CPFF) Commercial Paper Funding Facility *upper limit from Reuters||1800000||270879|
|(TALF) Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility||200000||200000|
|GSE MBS NO NAME Program||600000||600000|
|(TARP) Treasury Asset Relief Program||700000||330000|
|Exchange Stabilization Fund to guarantee principal in money market mutual funds||50000|
|Treasury direct purchases of MBS since Sept.||26570|
|Citigroup (Treasury+FDIC guarantees)||238500|
|Guarantees for Banks||1900000|
|(FHA) Federal Housing Administration||300000|
|Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac||350000|
Note: Figures as of Nov. 28, 2008
But we're using specific numbers where available. Some $900 billion, for instance, has been allocated to the Term Auction Credit Facility, known as TAF. Another $1.8 trillion has been set aside for the commercial paper funding facility.
Individual firms such as Bear Stearns, AIG and Citigroup, to name a few, have also received billions of dollars in government aid, in some cases through a variety of means.
(Editor's Note: CNBC's Steve Liesman and Sabrina Korber have been keeping a running tally of the government's efforts, while Sean Entwistle, Yolaiki Gonzalez, Giovanny Moreano and Ariel Nelson researched and computed the data for the comparisons with other major historical events in the slideshow.)
More Slideshows from CNBC:
- Call Girls, Madams and Johns: Prostitution Scandals of the Rich and Famous
- Happy Holidays: Wines for a Holiday Feast
- Budget Busters: Ten US States that Are Deep in the Red