Neil Barofsky, Special Inspector General of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (a.k.a. the SIGTARP ) caused quite a stir in Washington last week when he released a quarterly report that attempted to tally up the total dollar amount of federal government commitments related to the bailout. Those commitments include federal government programs that spend taxpayer money or issue loan guarantees in an attempt to rescue financial services institutions and support the economy. While the administration and the media have focused on the $700 billion in bailout funds explicitly authorized by Congress, Barofsky tried to bring a little transparency to the complex array of federal programs including those of the Treasury and the opaque Federal Reserve. His report put the potential outlay of taxpayer dollars of the combined 50-plus programs at an astonishing $23.7 trillion.
Key to the Obama administration's proposal for financial industry reform is the establishment of a Consumer Financial Protection Agency. The proposed agency would "have a broad mandate to cover the spectrum of consumer financial products and to fill gaps in current regulations." Not surprisingly, big business is fighting back.
From March 2008 to January 2009, the U.S. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) spent $7.6 million on public relations and marketing, to "instill confidence in the stability of the insured banking system" and mark the agency's 75th anniversary.