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Wall Streets' Great Recession Cost Us All $30 Trillion

Tickers in this article: C

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The government generally made out OK from the economic fallout of the Great Recession -- but the economy is quite another story.

With the U.S. Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.'s recently announced sale of $2.4 billion in Citigroup bonds, that marks the end of Uncle Sam's investment (or "bailout") in Wall Street investment banking firms.

While the U.S. government turned a tidy profit on the Citi deal, earning almost $15.5 billion from it, the financial damage inflicted on the nation and its citizens is both staggering and historic -- but not in a good way.

In fact, Americans may want to sit down as the Dallas Federal Reserve offers a final financial loss figure from the economic collapse of 2007-09 and resulting economic stagnation of the past five years.

That tally comes in at $30 trillion once you factor in "additional costs arising from psychological consequences, skill atrophy from extended unemployment, a reduced set of economic opportunities and increased government intervention in the economy," as the American Enterprise Institute puts it.

The Dallas Fed digs deep into the numbers -- not an easy exercise given all the moving parts involved in tallying up the damage done. In an economic letter released this month, Assessing the Costs and Consequences of the 2007-2009 Financial Crisis and Its Aftermath, the Dallas Fed notes that "any estimate of the toll exacted is bound to be incomplete -- for example, there may be future expenses not yet recognized -- so it's useful to calculate a range of likely costs."