Making sense of the crash: Spivs, pigs and the cost of the Iraq war

More spivs (Metro). And a pig (Daily Mirror). Both are here.

Amid much ribaldry about tabloid innumeracy at FT Alphaville, is the Mail’s Philip Delves Broughton talking out of his ass when he claims that the cost to the US taxpayer of “supporting failing financial institutions is fast approaching that of the Iraq war”?

The war in Iraq has been going on for nearly six years. Delves Broughton says it has cost around $600bn so far (although some estimates are far higher than that). The US government bail out has cost $300bn, he reckons.

In today’s FT, Kenneth Rogoff, professor of economics at Harvard University and former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, quotes a similar cost for bailing out Wall Street — $200bn-$300bn.

Rogoff suggests that this is “roughly equivalent to the cost of another year in Iraq”.

Same numbers, different parallels. FWIW, I suspect Rogoff is using something like the real cost of the Iraq war for his calculations (as opposed to the Bush administration’s minimalist estimates).

This kind of stuff is only going to get worse in the coming weeks and months. And nota bene: we haven’t even started arguing the toss about the cost of the British bail out.

For good measure, Rogoff reckons that Washington will end up spending $1,000bn-$2,000bn on rescuing Wall Street.

At the upper end of the scale, we make that approximately 3.33 Iraq wars.

What a missed opportunity for the military-industrial complex.

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