As the road to November's presidential election heats up, bailouts are becoming one of the hot debate topics. Little wonder: Between the 2008 decision to bail out Wall Street and the 2009 decision to bail out Detroit, the government's high-investment, high-stakes involvement in private enterprise has drawn scads of criticism from both sides of the political divide. But amidst all the political bloviating, some key facts have been obscured.
How much did the bailouts cost, and how many companies did they help? Have they been a total loss, or do they show some signs of profit? If you're interested in the answer to this and other bailout questions, take a peek at our bailout quiz!
Pop Quiz: Bailout Bonanza!
Pop Quiz: What Did Washington's Bailout Bonanza Buy for America?
A. $1 trillion
B. $600 billion
C. $250 billion
D. $100 billion
Since 2008, the U.S. government has spent $603.8 billion on bailouts. Most of this has been paid back, but $197.6 billion is still outstanding.
C. Fannie Mae
D. Goldman Sachs
In September 2008, the federal government took over Fannie Mae and pledged to spend up to $200 billion to cover its losses. Ultimately, the government poured in $116.1 billion, $91 billion of which it still hasn't gotten back. The Treasury recently announced that all of Fannie's profits will now go to paying down its debt, but it's unclear if the company will ever pay back everything that it owes.
A. AMS Servicing, LLC
B. Guaranty Bank
C. Banco Popular de Puerto Rico
D. First Keystone Bank
While some banks -- including Banco Popular -- were offered bailout funds and chose not to use them, the least expensive single bailout was AMS Servicing, a Buffalo NY-based mortgage servicer that borrowed $1,470 from the federal government. It still hasn't paid the loan back.
A. Goldman Sachs
One of the first eight banks to get money in the first round of federal bailouts, Citigroup received $45 billion to help "bolster" its bottom line. It ultimately paid the money back -- and the government banked another $12.5 billion in profit.
All told, 926 companies -- including car manufacturers, mortgage servicers, banks, and a host of other industries -- accepted bailout funds.
Thus far, 39 companies -- mostly small banks -- have either gone out of business or have negotiated to permanently retire their debt. The most expensive of these was CIT, whose 2009 bankruptcy ultimately cost the federal government $2.3 billion that will never be paid back.
D. All of the Above
The profitability of the Detroit bailouts depends on who is doing the accounting. Ford was likely the most profitable -- it took low-cost loans from the government, but since it never declared bankruptcy, many analysts don't count it as part of the bailout. Meanwhile, GM continues to pay back its debt, but still owes a staggering $27.2 billion. On the other hand, Chrysler only owes about $1.3 billion -- but, because of a deal that it worked out with the government, that debt has been retired, and will never be repaid.