It’s been a few months since the Federal Reserve was forced to disclose just how big the bank bailouts were … and which companies were the beneficiaries.
Over the weekend, Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent who teamed with Republican Sen. Jim DeMint to force the Fed to reveal the size of the bailout, wrote an opinion piece for the Huffington Post in which he expressed his outrage at the sheer, monstrous scope of the handouts.
What have we learned so far from the disclosure of more than 21,000 transactions? We have learned that the $700 billion Wall Street bailout signed into law by President George W. Bush turned out to be pocket change compared to the trillions and trillions of dollars in near-zero interest loans and other financial arrangements the Federal Reserve doled out to every major financial institution in this country. Among those are Goldman Sachs, which received nearly $600 billion; Morgan Stanley, which received nearly $2 trillion; Citigroup, which received $1.8 trillion; Bear Stearns, which received nearly $1 trillion, and Merrill Lynch, which received some $1.5 trillion in short term loans from the Fed.
If you’re a devoted follower of banking news, there’s nothing in Sanders’ piece that you don’t already know. But if you’re anything like us, no matter how many times you look at the numbers it’s still difficult to wrap your head around how much money the government gave away to keep a handful of finance executives from suffering.
So read Sanders’ piece, and try to memorize the numbers. Because some day you’ll have to explain to your grandchildren how they wound up in debt up to their eyeballs so that rich people they never met could stay rich.