NEW YORK (
) -- It is so frustrating to see reports such as we have in the
has made $14 billion on loans over the past two years or last week's missive by the
Wall Street Journal
stating that paybacks have yielded a total return of 10.16% for the government.
Seriously, who cares that banks like
have repaid the bailout funds they received when others like
Bank of America
Sure, I'm happy that the government received $44.7 billion back from banks so far, and it's nice that the repayments are more than the $40.6 billion loaned out, according to a report by SNL Financial cited by the Journal.
I'm also happy that the Federal Reserve earned a few billion dollars on some of the loans it made, according to the Financial Times.
The government made a few good investments. So what.
It all pales in comparison to the trillions of dollars the government pumped into the economy. And we're still in a recession, by the way.
These great returns on taxpayer investments won't even come close to covering the cost of unemployment benefits for the roughly 14.5 million Americans without jobs.
Just about every positive earnings surprise recently is due largely to cost-cutting - aka layoffs -- as companies from
slashed payrolls in response to the current economic malaise.
, whose upbeat outlook has buoyed the tech sector, acknowledged that its financial performance is due in large part to its "ongoing focus on operating efficiencies."
We also need to consider all the lost stock market value and the massive erosion of home values across the nation. We have more than 1.5 million properties on the verge of foreclosure in the U.S., with 1 out of every 84 homes subject to a foreclosure filing in the first half of this year, according to RealtyTrac.
Finally, I have to point out that we have yet to tally the cost of all the toxic assets that are still polluting bank balance sheets. The banks have been able to bury that bad news somewhat because of relaxed accounting rules, but we'll have to face the music at some point.
So let's not get too excited about some initial positive returns on the government's "investments." The cost of the financial crisis goes way beyond these meager payments from a small minority of the financial institutions that received taxpayer funds.
We're only talking about billions of dollars here -- these days that's chump change.
--Written by Glenn Hall in New York.
Glenn Hall is the New York-based Editor in Chief of
. Previously, he served as deputy editor and chief innovation officer at
The Orange County Register
and as a news manager at
in Frankfurt, Amsterdam and Washington, D.C. As a reporter, he covered business and financial markets, worked in both print and television in the U.S. and Europe, and conducted in-depth investigative coverage at
in Fort Wayne, Ind. His work also has been published in a variety of newspapers including
The Wall Street Journal
The New York Times
International Herald Tribune
. Hall received a bachelor's degree in journalism and political science from The Ohio State University and a certificate in project and program management from Boston University.