The image above shows the relative size of Federal bailouts (adjusted for inflation) since the 1970s, starting with Penn Central at the far left, and ending with the Wall Street bailout (estimated) on the far right.
A few things to note: that largish green dot towards the left represents the NYC bailout (yeah, Ford told us to drop dead, but eventually he signed off on a bailout to the tune of $2.3 billion ($9.4 billion today)). Above and to the right of that is a blue dot representing the Chrysler bailout ($1.5 billion then, $3.9 billion now). In all, those two rather iconic bailouts are relatively small potatoes.
And that huge magenta circle? The S&L bailout of 1989 (almost $300 billion today). Until the Wall Street bailout, it was the largest on record, exceeding Fannie/Freddie, Bear Stearns and AIG (and almost equal to the three of them combined).
You wouldn’t know it from reading the papers, but one of the presidential candidates was at the center of the S&L bailout, and not in a good way. In fact, he was reprimanded by the Senate for his role in that fiasco. Here’s a hint – it wasn’t Barack Obama (he was too busy being a community organizer at that time). Here’s another hint.
That’s fiscal experience we can believe in.
[via Kevin Drum]