The government spelled out today just how much the most expensive rescue of the financial crisis will end up costing taxpayers—as much as $259 billion for mortgage buyers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. By contrast, the combined bailouts of financial companies and the auto industry have cost taxpayers roughly $50 billion, and the bailouts of Wall Street banks alone, which sparked public fury, have so far brought taxpayers a $16 billion return.
Fannie and Freddie could end up costing taxpayers between $142 billion and $259 billion through 2013, the Federal Housing Finance Agency projected today. Those figures take into account dividends that the agency estimates the two companies will end up paying the government: between $80 billion and $104 billion over the next three years. The combined bailout of the two mortgage companies is on track to be the largest of the financial crisis. (Read more Fannie Mae stories.)