How big was the Wall Street bailout, and how much is still outstanding? Was it $4.6 Trillion? Was it $7.2 Trillion? Was it $13.87 Trillion? And what about the $1.2 Trillion in secret loans?
Just as importantly, is the Wall Street bailout ongoing, thus making it impossible to know how large the bailout is and what the ultimate cost will be?
The answers to these questions depend on who you ask. So anyone who tries to tell you how great the bailout was (in the past tense) obviously is being misled.
I'll leave these questions for another day. What I want to focus on in this diary is what we actually purchased with this enormous swindle.
First of all, we can't overlook the fact that we bailed out the big Wall Street banks because they were "Too Big To Fail".
So now, five years later, what's the situation concerning those Too Big To Fail banks?
And lets not forget the less than hidden problem of the derivatives market.
Obviously things are considerably worse in this area now. They are Too Bigger To Fail now.
And with the knowledge that these banks are so large that they are Too Big To Jail, bankers are openly flaunting the law, knowing that no one will go to jail if they are caught.
A strong case can be made that we've followed the housing bubble with a much bigger bubble: a Fraud Bubble.
The Justice Department has literally admitted that the law gets enforced selectively for bankers, as opposed to regular people.
Along with all the money laundering and fraud comes some increadible profits as the bankers grab more and more of the economy.
Or to look at it from another angle.
And why not pay less? The workforce simply hasn't kept up with the population.
And even those who find jobs are often working for poverty wages.
Is the bailout ongoing? Yes, it is. In fact there has barely been a single month without some sort of Fed intervention.
More than anything, the Fed and federal stimulus has been aimed at reviving the housing market. So how has that worked out?
This hasn't prevented the federal government to be burdened with bad debt it has bought from the private sector.
There has been some signs of life in the real estate market, much of related to speculators. This is sold to us as a sign of strength, when in fact it partly a sign that Wall Street is using bailout profits to become your new slumlord, and the other part is overseas fraud getting laundered in The States.
Luxury properties are being dumped on the market in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou for anyone able to pay in cash as crooked officials try to cover their tracks.The failure of fixing the housing market (despite throwing trillions of dollars at it, trying to reinflate the bubble) has caused a dramatic change to happen in the American household.
A report by the Communist Party's powerful anti-corruption unit, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CDIC), said "a wave of luxury home sales began last November and has accelerated since December"...
It also claimed that an astonishing $1 trillion (£630 billion), equivalent to 40 per cent of Britain's annual GDP, had been smuggled out of China illegally in 2012.
I n the United States, the National Association of Realtors said that more than $7 billion of properties had been bought by Chinese in the US last year. Some high-end homes are now specifically built for rich Chinese with ponds for koi carp and a second kitchen for pungent cooking.
But coming back to the workforce, we are seeing a demographic change.
Many Baby Boomers, seeing their home prices fall and their retirement investments stolen by banksters, have had to resort to dipping into their 401k's to get by.
This shift of old workers staying in the workforce, is causing young people all sorts of problems that will stay with them throughout their lives.
So once you add all this up, you have to ask yourself what we could have done differently?
You should probably start with not asking the bankers how to fix themselves and the economy that they screwed up.