The Cost Of Easy Money – $14 Trillion and Counting

Supervisory Insights – Where The Money Went

The FDIC released their Supervisory Insights report today which contains a detailed breakdown of the almost $14 trillion dollars committed by the Government to support the financial system over the past two years.   This huge commitment of taxpayer money can be viewed as the  cost of cleaning up after the Greenspan era of easy money.   The cost of the financial devastation that ensued from the easy money/easy lending era  far outweighs any illusory benefits that may have been gained.

The FDIC report easily recognized  the precipitating factors of the financial crisis of 2008.

The factors precipitating the financial turmoil of 2008 have been the subject of extensive public discussion and debate. The fallout from weak underwriting standards prevailing during a multi-year economic expansion first became evident in subprime mortgages, with Alt-A mortgages soon to follow. Lax underwriting practices fueled a rapid increase in housing prices, which subsequently adjusted sharply downward across many parts of the country.

Excessive reliance on financial leverage compounded problems for individual firms and the financial system as a whole.

One indicator of the gravity of recent developments is this: in 2008,  U.S. financial regulatory agencies extended $6.8 trillion in temporary loans, liability guarantees and asset guarantees in support of financial services.  By the end of the first quarter of 2009, the maximum capacity of new government financial support programs in place, or announced, exceeded $13 trillion.

And some of the old banking basics—prudent loan underwriting, strong capital and liquidity, and the fair treatment of customers—re-emerged as likely cornerstones of a more stable financial system in the future.

The obvious question is why were prudent loan underwriting standards abandoned in the first place?  Lenders, borrowers and regulators alike were all blinded by greed and the misguided belief that easy wealth was being created by the use of ridiculous amounts of cheap credit.  Now, at a cost of almost an entire year’s GDP, we know better – at least until next time.

Government Support for Financial Assets and Liabilities Announced in 2008 and Soon Thereafter ($ in billions)
Important note: Amounts are gross loans, asset and liability guarantees and asset purchases, do not represent net cost to taxpayers, do not reflect contributions of private capital expected to accompany some programs, and are announced maximum program limits so that actual support may fall well short of these levels
Year-end 2007 Year-end 2008 Subsequent or Announced Capacity If Different
Treasury Programs
TARP investments1 $0 $300 $700
Funding GSE conservatorships2 $0 $200 $400
Guarantee money funds3 $0 $3,200
Federal Reserve Programs
Term Auction Facility (TAF)4 $40 $450 $900
Primary Credit5 $6 $94
Commercial Paper Funding Facility (CPFF)6 $0 $334 $1,800
Primary Dealer Credit Facility (PDCF)5 $0 $37
Single Tranche Repurchase Agreements7 $0 $80
Agency direct obligation purchase program8 $0 $15 $200
Agency MBS program8 $0 $0 $1,250
Asset-backed Commercial Paper Money Market Mutual Fund
Liquidity Facility (AMLF)9 $0 $24
Maiden Lane LLC (Bear Stearns)9 $0 $27
AIG (direct credit)10 $0 $39 $60
Maiden Lane II (AIG)5 $0 $20
Maiden Lane III (AIG)5 $0 $27
Reciprocal currency swaps11 $14 $554
Term securities lending facility (TSLF) and TSLF options program(TOP)12 $0 $173 $250
Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility (TALF)13 $0 $0 $1,000
Money Market Investor Funding Facility (MMIFF)14 $0 $0 $600
Treasury Purchase Program (TPP)15 $0 $0 $300
FDIC Programs
Insured non-interest bearing transactions accounts16 $0 $684
Temporary Liquidity Guarantee Program (TLGP)17 $0 $224 $940
Joint Programs
Citi asset guarantee18 $0 $306
Bank of America asset guarantee19 $0 $0 $118
Public-Private Investment Program (PPIP)20 $0 $0 $500
Estimated Reductions to Correct for Double Counting
TARP allocation to Citi and Bank of America asset guarantee21 – $13
TARP allocation to TALF21 – $80
TARP allocation to PPIP21 – $75
Total Gross Support Extended During 2008 $6,788
Maximum capacity of support programs announced throughfirst quarter 200922 $13,903

More on this topic:
FDIC Lists Root Cause For Failed Banks – Lax Regulation

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