Or perhaps it should be transparency.
We're keeping up as best we can with the expenditures on our behalf but, frankly, it's becoming tougher and tougher to follow the money. Soldiering on, we've added more info to the OrgScope maps of the government's spending since Congress passed the $700 billion package. And we're tracking the research of others, including such excellent articles as Ross Kerber and Rob Weisman's November 13, '08, Boston Globe piece, "Bailout retooled to boost lending."
To follow, you need a very sharp pencil, as it turns out that considerably more than $700 billion has flowed into "the markets," approximately three times that amount. We've taken the information from the chart accompanying the article and combined it with information from the Treasury Department to give a composite view of about $2.3 trillion.
Three pots of money have gone out the door--or are/were supposed to: the original $700B authorized by Congress for use by the Treasury, of which almost half has been allocated and is mostly spent/invested; another $1.5 trillion in lending out of the Federal Reserve; and a further $693 billion, which the Kerber-Weisman piece lumps under "other spending."
When Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke was questioned by the House Financial Services Committee last week (Treasury Sec Henry Paulsen had his turn on the hot seat too) about the failure to disclose the recipients of so much Fed lending, he argued that the recipients only agreed to take the money if they could do so without revealing who they were. Bloomberg News asked for "details of the Fed lending under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act and filed a federal lawsuit Nov. 7 seeking to force disclosure," according to "Fed Defies Transparency Aim in Refusal to Disclose," a Nov 10, 2008, article by Mark Pittman, Bob Ivry and Alison Fitzgerald.
We've added the additional players and spending amounts to our OrgScope map - scroll to right, then drill down into Treasury for the $700B and into Federal Agencies, then the Federal Reserve for the $1.5 trillion. We've tagged each of the loans and equity investments by recipient (and where not available, by group, as per the Globe lumpings, i.e. Securities Dealers = $80 billion; Money Markets = $100 billion; Commercial Paper = $230 billion), hanging each one off the agency that was the conduit for the money. We've added two more contract awards by the Office of Financial Stability as well, each for about $5.5 million, for legal advice services around the investments (Squires, Sanders & Demps contract here and Hughes, Hubbard, & Reed contract here).
OK. So none of that is what we hoped for with the bailout. Not much transparency, little visible results. But change is coming, and we are also tracing the government-elect as it forms. So click on the White House and then follow the new appointments there. We'll have a new post on mapping the transition shortly. (Click on the image to go right to the map, then zoom around the government. Enjoy.)