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Tallying the Full Cost of the Financial Crisis

Tallying the Full Cost of the Financial Crisis
Photograph by Corbis

To mark the fourth anniversary of the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy, which greeting card would be appropriate? Perhaps a sympathy card? A farewell? If Better Markets, a Washington (D.C.) nonprofit that supports tighter financial regulation, were to design a card, it would probably have a gilded “$12.8 trillion” plastered across the front. That’s the amount Better Markets estimates the 2008 financial crisis cost Americans.

At first blush, the cost of such a colossal crisis seems incalculable. Myriad factors are involved, including such things as the toll of unemployment and lost wages, losses in the stock market and corporate earnings, declining home values, the depletion of retirement savings, and decreased consumer spending.