Dylan Ratigan is one of the few, if not only, main stream news reporters that attempts to tell the whole story – in all their the ugly and painful details. Here is an MSNBC clip of Ratigan going off on what he calls the $23.7 trillion bailout. Dylan is absolutely right that the TARP program is a mere drop in the bucket compared to the overall bailout. But unfortunately, he does not go into enough details or even provide sources for the $23.7 trillion figure.
So where does the $23.7 trillion figure come from? SIGTARP, an oversight commission created at the same time as TARP, produced quarterly reports that present a much more detailed view of the financial sector handouts bailout program. The July 2009 Sigtarp report contains the $23.7 trillion figure, as shown in the graphic below.
It’s called “Total potential support” because not all of the money has actually been spent. Much of the potential costs are associated to government guarantees for financial system transactions, which according to the financial institutions, are backed by a pile of worthless paper “assets”.
Two additional SIGTARP quarterly reports have been released since the July report with the $23.7 trillion reference. True to government form, there is not much consistency in the look and feel of these average 250 page reports. The section which contained the $23.7 trillion figure – “TARP in context with other programs”- has been removed from subsequent reports. It’s likely still possible to extract the new figure with a painstaking comb through of the report. My hunch is that this was intentional. SIGTARP and the government agencies that created it do not want the true cost of the financial bailout known, or at least not easily known.