Goldman Sachs's Drop In The Bucket

03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

On Tuesday, Goldman Sachs announced it would commit $500 million to help small businesses, garnering the financial giant headlines and buzz for its altruism.

But that's just a small fraction of the money the company has reaped thanks to taxpayer-supported government programs since last September.

* It's barely a fifth of the $2.3 billion the company has saved thanks to a Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation guarantee to help banks raise money, according to a Wall Street Journal estimate. Goldman Sachs had $22.6 billion in outstanding debt issued through this program as of Sept. 30, according to its most recent regulatory filing.

* It's about four percent of the $12.9 billion the firm received through the government's bailout of insurance giant AIG. This backdoor bailout helped Goldman Sachs rid itself of toxic assets. A government watchdog report released this week argues that the government team -- led by current Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner -- overpaid and, generally speaking, failed nearly every step of the way in its negotiations.

And the new charity is only three percent of the $16.7 billion the company has set aside for employee salaries and bonuses.