A recent Wall Street Journal headline blared “Cost of Bailouts Continues to Decline.” That is only true in the most narrow and misleading way. If you only count TARP and the GSEs and nothing else (like the trillions in Fed programs and massive other costs), then it’s arguably technically true.
But for a full discussion of the costs of the crisis, read this Report, which shows that the costs are going to be more than $12.8 trillion.
Indeed, the costs of the crisis and the bailouts continue in two key ways. First, the American people continue to suffer from persistent high unemployment and very slow economic growth, among other things. Second, many bailouts continue (although they aren’t counted when the government refers to “bailouts”). For example, the Fed’s unprecedented program called “quantitative easing” is all due to the economic crisis that the financial crisis caused. As another recent headline made clear (“Fed Maps Exit From Stimulus”), this has not only been massively costly with questionable benefits, it is also going to require an unprecedented exit plan that has never been tried before.