The $700 Billion Bailout Plan – A Good Idea?

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We have all heard plenty of talk, both positive and negative, about the $700 billion bailout plan, and there are now rumors of similar plans in the works. The discussion dominated the recent election, and it continues to be a primary concern both on “Wall Street” and “Main Street.” Many people who have never concerned themselves with high level economic issues are finding themselves writing, or being solicited to write, letters to their congressmen and women in support of or opposition to the plan.

But with this high level financial decision and high level of potential effect on individual taxes, it is important for those of us who do not spend our days reading about the Secretary of the Treasury to know what is involved with this plan. Many people continue to wonder if investing $700 billion to rescue the U.S. financial system, and as a result the U.S. economy, is really a good idea.

A little perspective helps us see what is really involved with this plan. $700 billion is of course a huge amount of money. But in 2008 alone, the U.S. Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve already committed more than $900 billion dollar to bailouts. Since they did not all happen at the same time, you were unlikely to have heard about them, nor to have realized the magnitude. There are reports that over the past three years, bailouts already on the books have exceeded a total of $4 trillion. But most of the deals either went unreported in the mainstream media or you might have forgotten about them already. With all of this in mind, $700 billion, while still huge, is not so unusual as it might otherwise seem.

But even if it is the timing, rather than the amount, that makes this bailout plan unique, where does all this money go? The new $700 billion in particular is supposed to be doled out in the following amounts:

  • The Federal Reserve will loan $85 billion to Insurer AIG.
  • $200 billion will go to Fannie Mae and Freddie Max at $100 billion each.
  • $300 billion is for the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) to refinance failing mortgages.
  • $4 billion is for local communities to help them buy and repair foreclosed homes.
  • $87 billion will go to JPMorgan Chase & Co to help them bailing out Lehman Brothers.
  • $29 billion will go to JPMorgan Chase’s for the buyout of Bear Stearns & Co in March.
  • $200 billion will be loaned to various banks issued through the Fed’s Term Auction Facility.

When we look at the details of where the money is going, it is harder to be for or against the plan as a whole. Many people find certain terms reasonable and others unfair. But looking at an itemized summary of where the money goes can help us be more sober when we think about whether or not the plan, or plans, are a good idea. $700 in one chunk may initially invite fear and skepticism, but, when we see the details, it makes more sense.

Personally, I would like to see a list like this created that consolidates all of the bailout plans, from the past, present, and future, into one solid plan. This will make it easier to manage the huge amount of money that needs to be committed. And let’s face it: These bailouts will happen anyway, whether the Senate and the House of Representatives approve the bill or not. The only difference is that they will happen behind the scenes and in smaller portions, and we might not even notice it.

I for one would like to have more transparency, and a consolidated plan is one way to achieve it.However, before committing any money, certain key people need to be held accountable for their actions. Saying that the money will not be used for “Golden Parachutes”, though necessary, is insufficient. Those who put our economy in the position of needing to be thrown a costly lifesaver by the American taxpayers need to be fired at the least and probably put in jail. The worst possible outcome is that this bailout money could go to the same people who created this mess. Having a more transparent account of where the money goes will help us all be sure that this does not occur.

Markus Heitkoetter is the author of the internation bestseller Day trading ( and a professional day trading coach. For more free information on day trading visit his website

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