Wall Street’s Misdeeds Cost Trillions, But It’s Main Street Who’s Getting Nickel-and-Dimed


Take a look at these two sentences:

“(I)f losses from the 2007– 2009 crisis were to reach similar levels (as they did in previous recessions) … losses could exceed $13 trillion.” Government Accountability Office

“You would think that any regulation that could affect a major part of the economy and cost industry and/or consumers millions of dollars to comply with would be based on rigorous and consistent economic analysis.”David C. Johns, Heritage Foundation

In the face of trillion-dollar losses, Wall Street’s conservative spokespeople sound like Dr. Evil presenting his demands to world leaders: I will destroy the planet unless you give me … one million dollars.

The Price of Greed

The other day the GAO released a report on the costs of the 2008 financial crisis and the recession which followed — which is still going on for millions of Americans.  The report confirmed and even increased previous estimates of the crisis’ cost, concluding that losses in American output could reach $13 trillion.

The report did something else that was important and admirable, too: It considered the human cost of the recession, noting that “real GDP” — the most commonly used economic measure in situations like these — “is an imperfect proxy of overall social welfare.”

That’s especially true today: While overall statistics show that our country is in a recovery, the top 1 percent in U.S. income captured 121 percent of the gains, while everyone else has actually lost ground since then.  Once that’s considered, even the GAO’s new figures may have understated the costs for the vast majority of Americans.

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