Since we spilled a lot of pixels
late last week on the question of whether taxpayers might get back the money the Treasury spent on the financial bailout, it's worth noting that, according to Congress's in-house accountant, we certainly haven't yet.
The Congressional Budget Office released a report
Friday afternoon which found, as summarized in a post
on the CBO website: "We expect the government to recover about three quarters of its initial investment" of $247 billion. In other words, according to CBO projections, we'll likely make back around $183 billion, but will still be down around $64 billion.
Of course, that's only one small data point in an enormous sea of complexity. It covers only the first third of the $700 billion allocated by Congress -- a figure that could still grow even further. More importantly, the major factor in determining what we get back will be the ongoing solvency of the banks we "invested" in -- something not even the CBO can predict.
But it at least gives us a preliminary measure. If, when all is said and done, we'd made back three quarters of the money we put in, and avoided a complete financial collapse, a lot of people would see that as an acceptable result. But we're a long way from that point right now.
"The Congressional Budget Office estimated Friday that taxpayers could lose $64 billion
on investments made with the first third of the $700 billion Troubled
Asset Relief Program, despite assurances by U.S. officials that the
rescue could make money for the U.S. government."