by The Compliance Exchange on February 15, 2013
The 2008 financial crisis cost the U.S. economy more than $22 trillion, a study by the Government Accountability Office published Thursday said. The financial reform law that aims to prevent another crisis, by contrast, will cost a fraction of that.
“The 2007-2009 financial crisis, like past financial crises, was associated with not only a steep decline in output but also the most severe economic downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s,” the GAO wrote in the report. The agency said the financial crisis toll on economic output may be as much as $13 trillion — an entire year’s gross domestic product. The office said paper wealth lost by U.S. homeowners totalled $9.1 billion. Additionally, the GAO noted, economic losses associated with increased mortgage foreclosures and higher unemployment since 2008 need to be considered as additional costs.
The report, five years after the collapse of mortgage-focused hedge funds in late-2007 set off a yearlong banking panic and a deep recession, was published as part of a cost-benefit analysis of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law of 2010. The GAO tried to determine if the benefits of preventing a future economic meltdown exceeded the costs of implementing that law.
“If the cost of a future crisis is expected to be in the trillions of dollars, then the act likely would need to reduce the probability of a future financial crisis by only a small percent for its expected benefit to equal the act’s expected cost,” the GAO concluded.