Despite the size and importance of federal involvement in financial markets, the costs and risks of most federal financial activities are only partially measured and are poorly understood. In important respects (e.g., the absence of capital budgets, risk adjustment, and sophisticated internal costing systems), federal accounting for financial risk and value lags well behind private-sector standards. The political process provides few incentives for improving disclosures. Also, with a few notable exceptions, academics have devoted relatively little attention to improving the measurements of federal financial costs and risks. Programmatic complexity and the difficulty of obtaining data from federal agencies create substantial barriers to entry for researchers, and the topic has remained outside of the mainstream of economic inquiry. Filling these gaps is extremely important.
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