Commentary

It Was Only $1.5 Trillion, Fed Chair Says Of Secret Bailouts

Matthew Sheffield
By Matthew Sheffield | December 7, 2011 | 6:04 PM EST

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke is firing back at critics outraged by the recently revealed secret loans the central bank made to financial institutions during the 2008 financial crisis.

Bernanke, in letters to the relevant House and Senate committees, says there was no secret bailout. And media reports that the not-secret-bailout that no one knew about cost $7 trillion or more are "wildly inaccurate."

Besides, it cost "only" $1.5 trillion, Bernanke said.

Only $1.5 trillion?

Let's put that paltry sum into perspective:
  • Baseball star Albert Pujols, fresh off winning a World Series with the St. Louis Cardinals, is a free agent and the Cardinals and other teams are bidding around $200 million for his services for the next 10 years.
  • $1.5 trillion would cover a Pujols-sized contract for 7,500 players - 10 times the total number of players on all 30 Major League Baseball team rosters during the baseball season.

To put it fully in perspective: The Fed, in a matter of months, loaned out enough to enough money to pay for every team to have a roster of 25 Albert Pujols every year for the next 100 years, (although, unfortunately for baseball fans everywhere except St. Louis the last decade, there is only one Albert Pujols).

That's a LOT of money. Why, it's roughly the size of the federal budget deficit for one whole year under President Barack Obama.

And the thing is, we'll know far more about the details of Albert Pujols' contract than we ever will about how the Fed goes about deciding how much of our money it loans out to banks and other corporations.

If only transparency, honesty - and frugality - were still as American as baseball and apple pie.


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