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New Bailout Page: How Deep Is the Gov’t in the Red?

Our New Bailout Summary PageSince the bailout began in October 2008, we’ve tried to keep you up to date on just how deep in the red the government is. Now we’ve launched a special page of our site just for that purpose.

Our bailout database tracks every dollar and every recipient. Our summary page gives an overview not only of how much money has gone out the door, but also how much the government has reaped in revenue.

If you check it out, you’ll see that, cumulatively — we track both the TARP and the separate bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac –  the bailouts are at $306 billion net outstanding. We arrive at that number by accounting not only for the bailout money that has been returned, but also for the revenue that the government has received as a result of its investments and loans: dividends, interest, fees and warrant proceeds.

The net amount outstanding has been dwindling for months as the larger banks have returned their bailout funds. Pittsburgh-based PNC was the latest to do so, paying back $7.6 billion on Wednesday.

But as we pointed out last month, while the government’s exposure to the large banks has been shrinking, bailout spending is likely to increase in other areas, namely propping up the housing market.

The prime example of that is the bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The government has so far injected $110.6 billion. That sum will continue to rise. In its budget released earlier this month, the administration forecast that Fannie and Freddie would need $77 billion more over the next two years – a total of $188 billion.

It remains unknown whether the government will seek to recoup that money. Fannie and Freddie are private companies, even though they rely on the government for survival. For months, administration officials have promised that they would produce at least the outlines of a long-term plan for the companies when the White House released its proposed budget. But there was no such plan in the budget.

The administration has also sought to shift bailout spending to smaller banks. President Obama announced a major initiative earlier this month, a plan to take $30 billion from the TARP and invest it in small and mid-size banks (those with less than $10 billion in assets), with the goal of spurring those banks to in turn make loans to small businesses. Notably, the plan calls for transferring the funds out of the oft-maligned TARP to a totally separate program in order to avoid TARP restrictions (including limits on executive compensation).

Check out our new summary page here.

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