Numbers to note (#1): Treasury report on TARP program

The present bloggers have instituted a new category of brief postings under the rubric of  “Numbers to note.” These are items that we see posted in news media or other sources with particularly interesting data of one type or another relating to either current events or to developments in science and/or technology.  In many cases the notable numbers belie previous or current political bombast.

Our first posting comes from a very interesting set of charts just released by the U.S. Treasury entitled “The Financial Crisis Response in Charts”. This is chock-full of intriguing data on the recent financial crash of 2007-2009, as well as programs (such as the Troubled Asset Recovery Program (TARP)) instituted under the Bush administration and in the first few months of the Obama administration to ameliorate its potentially devastating impact. Together these charts and data destroy numerous myths and misconceptions that have been circulated during the past two or three years, both by “liberal” and “conservative” political commentators.

Here are a few highlights:

  1. The financial crisis of 2007-2009 was a shock larger than that which lead to the Great Depression. The resulting fall in U.S. GDP was roughly double that of any recession since 1974.
  2. The recession can hardly be blamed on the current administration, because the most of the decline took place before Jan 2009, and further most of the countermeasures were enacted just prior to the start of the present administration.
  3. The passage of the TARP program and other financial programs coincides almost exactly with the start of the recovery. Largely as a result of these programs, job losses during the current recession were only about 1/3 the job losses of the Great Depression.
  4. In spite of early estimates of the cost of TARP and other financial stability programs (ranging from 341 billion to several trillion U.S. dollars), at the present time the total net cost is about $60 billion, and it is expected that over the next few years even that remaining deficit will be fully repaid, resulting in a NET PROFIT to the U.S. taxpayer.
  5. Nonetheless, the U.S. debt has ballooned in the past decade (mostly due to the cost of the two Middle Eastern wars and the 2001 tax cuts), and the nation must get serious about reducing its deficits (and eventually even paying down part of its debt), as painful as that might be.

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