The Federal Reserve has backstopped the purchase of Bear Stearns to the tune of $29 billion. It loaned $85 billion to insurer AIG. It's letting banks borrow up to $150 billion using risky mortgage-backed securities as collateral. And it's letting investment banks, which it doesn't regulate, get short-term loans using the central bank's discount window.
The Treasury, meanwhile, has pledged to backstop Fannie and Freddie up to $200 billion. Lawmakers passed legislation allowing the Federal Housing Administration to insure up to $300 billion in loans for troubled borrowers. They're likely to loan $25 billion to the auto industry.
If you add up how much the Treasury and Fed have pledged or made available for loans so far, it's close to $800 billion. (By comparison, the Savings & Loan crisis of the early 1990s cost taxpayers a net of $124 billion in 1999 dollars.)
So what's the real cost to taxpayers for all these interventions? No one can say for sure, and probably won't be able to for some time.
One piece of context: The price tags on the recent bailouts are not nearly as scary when compared to the unfunded liabilities the government is facing from say, Medicare. [And Medicaid and Social Security.]
[Excerpt of an article by Jeanne Sahadi, CNNMoney.com]