The U.S. government has spent more than $12 trillion to prop up large financial institutions since the 2008 financial meltdown, but more taxpayer money could still be used for U.S. bank bailouts.
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A Standard & Poor's report Tuesday said that despite the government's efforts at financial reform through the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the U.S. Treasury, U.S. Federal Reserve and Congress could still bail out a "too-big-to-fail" bank if it felt it necessary to contain risk.
"We believe the government may try to avoid contagion and a domino effect if a Sifi [systemically important financial institution] finds itself in a financially weakened position," the S&P wrote in a research note.
S&P acknowledged that policymakers have been trying to make it clear that bank bailouts are over, but that the government's track record says otherwise.
"Time and time again, the U.S. government has found ways, many times reluctantly, to contain systemic risk and limit economic fallout when large financial institutions are on the brink of failure," said S&P.