Embedded in the macroeconomic data, we tend to lose the ability to surprise ourselves when we hear the big numbers; 1 billion of USD here another 50bn there. When it comes to bailouts and bank mergers, it is especially hard to have a reference. Oxfam’s Head of Research Duncan Green puts the US financial sector’s bailout into perspective:
- Would clear the accumulated debt of the 49 poorest countries in the world ($375bn) twice over
- Is almost 5 times the annual amount of extra aid needed to achieve all the Millennium Development Goals on poverty, health, education etc ($150bn a year)
- Is about 7 years of current global aid levels ($104bn in 2007)
- Is enough to eradicate all world poverty for over two years (UNDP calculates it would take $300bn to get the entire world population over the $1 a day poverty line).
On the other hand it’s
- only a quarter of the cost of the Iraq war ($3 trillion on Joseph Stiglitz’ calculation )
- a half of annual global military spending ($1339 bn)
To keep calculating, don’t forget that the estimated martket value gone right after the House rejected the bail-out plan was much more thant the package itself (about $1.5 trillion).