9 Nov

Was Bush Right on TARP?


“I’ve abandoned free-market principles to save the free-market system,”
- President George W. Bush, December 16, 2008 on CNN

President George W. Bush signs the $700 billion US financial bailout bill in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington Friday. (Charles Dharapak/Associated Press)

Most conservatives just slapped their heads and groaned in consternation over the above statement; and probably also wanted to slap silly the president they’ve otherwise supported and defended for the last nigh 8 years in office.

The Troubled Asset Relief Program was heavily criticized by many conservatives. In light of the stimulus spendings and expansion of government under the current PotUS, some Americans even forget that TARP was initiated under Bush and Paulson’s leadership, not Obama’s (although he did support it, as a U.S. senator).

2 years later, in handling the 2008 financial crisis in the twilight of his presidency, was Bush right?

When the bill was being voted upon 2 years ago, I nervously and unconfidently wrote this:

Republicans who stand opposed do so for ideological reasons: Let the free market run its course, and those who made bad decisions suffer the consequences of having made bad decisions. Democrats oppose the bill for ideological reasons as well, thinking this is a bail-out for Wall Street. Caught in the cross-fire of this mess, is all of the rest of us. If we simply stand aside and allow financial institutions to fail on free market principle, we will all suffer together for the mistakes of others.


Medved writes:

“Two years after it began, the controversial TARP program—the bailout of the financial system—concludes operations with much-better-than expected results. Most money invested in the rescue has been repaid, often with interest: of the $700 billion originally authorized, taxpayers remain on the hook for less than $66 billion, according to the Treasury Department.

This shows the Bush Bailout starkly contrasting with Obama’s Stimulus, which authorized $864 billion in spending, with no pay back. The stimulus permanently shifted money from private sector to government, while TARP temporarily transferred funds from public to private sector. TARP was also bipartisan: most Congressional Republicans supported it, while the stimulus drew united GOP opposition from 214 of 217 Republicans then in Congress.

Short term loans to save private businesses may be debatable but long-term explosions of spending to grow government are always disastrous.”

Latest bailout loss estimate: $29 billion.

Wall Street Bailout Returns 8.2% Profit Beating Treasury Bonds:

The U.S. government’s bailout of financial firms through the Troubled Asset Relief Program provided taxpayers with higher returns than yields paid on 30- year Treasury bonds — enough money to fund the Securities and Exchange Commission for the next two decades.

The government has earned $25.2 billion on its investment of $309 billion in banks and insurance companies, an 8.2 percent return over two years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That beat U.S. Treasuries, high-yield savings accounts, money- market funds and certificates of deposit. Investing in the stock market or gold would have paid off better.

When the government first announced its intention to plow funds into the nation’s banks in October 2008 to resuscitate the financial system, many expected it to lose hundreds of billions of dollars. Two years later TARP’s bank and insurance investments have made money, and about two-thirds of the funds have been paid back.

This entry was posted in Auto Industry, Barack Obama, Bush 43, Bush Exceptionalism, Economy, Obamanomics. Bookmark the permalink. Tuesday, November 9th, 2010 at 6:00 am

39 Responses to Was Bush Right on TARP?

  1. kathie says: 1

    It was a loan and it saved the investors of America, 80% of all Americans. Personally, I say thank you Mr. President.

  2. playwithfire05 says: 2

    Investors are taking risks too. I still dont see how we can allow it this time for these people and not be expected to bailout every failed business plan.

  3. Wordsmith says: 3

    I think rescuing our financial system was the exception to the rule. If this weren’t a loan but a pay out, with zero chance of recovery, then I don’t think this would have been supportable at all.

  4. Robert says: 4

    The way I read that, and I’ll admit my math isnt the best, taxpayers would only technically be on the hook for 3.8 billion at this point. I base this on the NYT estimate less the interest earned. Now I realize that the calculation probably isnt done this way, and it would be best if the Gov actually turned a profit somehow, but the listed figures dont take into account the billions in personal debt Americans have paid down. Now if we could just atop enccouraging people to buy houses and luxury goods they can’t afford things would looks even better. Unfortunatly 2/3 of the auto industry is a pariah to many Americans and we have no idea what to expect in taxes and punative fines in the near future. Ah history and your 20/20 vision.

  5. B-Rob says: 5

    I read Hank Paulson’s “On the Brink,” “Game Change” by Mark Halparin, et al., and a few other books about the 2008 election. I can sum up the actors this way:

    Paulson, Pelosi, Obama, Bush, Geithner, Bernanke, Barney Frank, Rep. Bachus, Sen. Corker — alert, tuned in and scared sh*tless at what they were facing.

    House and Senate Dems — willing to follow Pelosi, but insisting that Bush take the wheel

    Boehner, Cantor and the House and Senate GOPers — playing nothing but politics

    John McCain — totally f-ing clueless and useless. GOPers were embarrassed by his failure to grasp what was happening.

    Bush was right — we needed the most socialistic boost imaginable for AIG, GM, Chrysler and the banking system to survive. It was like a Seventh Day Adventist accepting a blood transfusion. Our economy is better for it.

    In reality, for all the gnashing of teeth, America likes our system — a regulated capitalistic system with a socialist “backstop.” No GOPers campaigned on getting rid of the most socialistic program in our system — Medicare: they campaigned on spending MORE than Obama in the future. The GOPers were lucky that their votes, in the main, were not needed to pass TARP and save the system. Indeed, I wonder — where would we be if the GOPer cons had had their way and Bush and Paulson’s plan NOT been enacted?

  6. Nan G says: 6

    I agree w/ posters #1 & 3.
    It also seems to my memory that Obama did MORE than simply support the TRAP as a Senator.
    He was already the ”President-Elect.”

    I also recall he actually had logos and props to that effect.

    He was brought in along with what was passing as his financial team of economic advisers before TARP was finalized.
    It had more than Obama’s ”approval.”

    He was going to be president and not Bush, so Bush allowed Obama to put together a plan he (Obama) wanted to work with.
    I’m pretty sure that had the same thing happened while Bush had more than two years left to serve as opposed to two months, he (Bush) would have created an entirely different plan.

    NYTimes’ Peter J. Solomon wrote after the election, but before the Inaugaration:

    Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr., TARP’s creator, has changed its mission three times in 60 days ­– and in none of its configurations has it achieved its goal of extending credit to homeowners, consumers or businesses.

    Mr. Paulson may have given up on new purchases of assets or equity and is leaving about $350 billion — half the amount authorized by Congress — to the incoming Obama administration to disburse.

    In suspending further TARP investments, Secretary Paulson and President Bush have done President-elect Obama an enormous favor.

    This allows the new administration to rewrite its rules.

    Mr. Obama would be well advised to use this time and the Democratic majorities he has in Congress to establish a new agency, separate the functions of deal-making from policy, allowing his new Treasury secretary to fashion policies that will restore long-term growth.


  7. Old Trooper 2 says: 7

    TARP was a Huge mistake. ARRA was just adding insult to injury. Now this…

    World To Fed: Stop Printing All That Money


    The great Bernanke QE2 debate continues to heat up.

    In the run-up to the G-20 meetings, China, Russia, Germany and others are all coming out against the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing agenda. They don’t want hot-money excess dollars to flow into their higher-yielding currencies.

    The assault against Bernanke’s easy money has reached such fever that President Obama felt it necessary to defend the $600 billion in new-money printing in a news conference in India.

    Meanwhile, World Bank President Robert Zoellick has actually called for putting gold back into global money, in order to use it as an international reference point to measure market expectations over inflation or deflation.

    The former Treasury and State Department official wants a successor to Bretton Woods. To my way of thinking, Zoellick is dead-on right.

    And then there’s Kevin Warsh’s opus op-ed in Monday’s Wall Street Journal. I have written about Warsh in the past, and his sound-thinking views.

    A Critic At The Fed

    Taking a bit of a shot at Bernanke’s QE2, the Fed board member basically says: Look, you want better growth, reform the tax code and stop regulating. “The Federal Reserve is not a repair shop for broken fiscal, trade, or regulatory policies,” he writes.

    But in the key part of his op-ed, Warsh calls for a strictly limited QE2, not an open-ended commitment. He describes it as “necessarily limited, circumscribed, and subject to regular review.”

    And he goes on to say that if the dollar decline and run-up of commodity prices continues, these inflation signals should stop QE2, regardless of the unemployment rate.

    It’s noteworthy that both Zoellick and Warsh are using gold, commodities and the dollar as alarm signals — market-based alarm signals — that would warn the Fed if it’s too loose.

    Since Bernanke first hinted at quantitative easing in late August, commodity indexes have jumped nearly 20%, gold has hit a record high over $1,400 an ounce, and the dollar has fallen nearly 10% against the euro. And riding the crest of easy-money expectations, stocks have increased just less than 20%.

    But is it real? Is it sustainable?

    The fact is that Ben Bernanke, who seems wedded to an old-style monetarism, is looking at backward inflation signals such as the consumer price index. And here’s the irony in Bernanke’s monetarism.

    In the six months prior to April, the M2 money supply was flat. But since April, M2 has turned up rapidly at a 7% annual growth rate. So it looks like people are putting money to work as the whole economy may actually be heating up.

  8. yippie21 says: 8

    With all the wringing of principled hands, remember who precipitated the collapse. Arlen Specter… outing IndyMac Bank’s troubles, starting a run on the bank, and exposing Lehman. The house of cards got a nudge and I can’t prove it, but I think clearly there was a political cabal aimed at making the economy appear worse than it was for the 18 months ( special emphasis, … they did it all of GWB’s two terms ) leading to the election.

    Not getting the traction they wanted with talk, monied individuals and hedge funds ran the economy, especially oil into the stratosphere actually adding incredible stress to the system. Meanwhile the house of cards sat waiting for a bump.

    Then in August, they bumped it. An August surpise that crippled the GOP… though with McCain as our candidate, we were crippled anyway, and TARP, though in a vacuum would maybe be seen as an option was the icing on the cake with conservatives. It was clearly a “too perfect” storm of political winds.

    Maybe this was all a collection of little things, but it sure did seem to add up just perfectly to help the democrats at every turn. And obviously we’re not even talking about the press and the big O.

    TARP could be argued neccessary at the time. I am uncomfortable with it but accept it. BUT as things unraveled in the summer of 2008, it sure looks fishier now than it did at the time, and that’s the bigger fish. Conservatives had no good options except a vote against the O and unfortunately, a lot stayed home. … but they big O being elected, though painful will hopefully provide us with 100 years of conservativism and a return to sanity in the USA.

  9. Snerd Gronk says: 9

    I’m not about to defend either party, ’cause I think they are both too controlled by big money (a function of the U$ ‘big-money’ election system vs. publicly funded elections). However, the problem for me was them Credit Default Swaps.

    Essentially as I understand it, they allowed AIG to sell insurance on stocks, etc., without the regulation insurance companies face, which is the requirement to have the resources to cover potential losses. When ‘people’ (read new SCOTUS designation for huge corps), tried to collect on that ‘insurance’ and nothing was there to cover it …. Ka-Bam!

    Furthermore, this unregulated stock insurance SCAM was used to change crap stocks (can you say Bundled mortgages … ?), to AAA rated investments … and when the under-regulated Subprime mortgagees started to fail in their ability to pay the mortgage after the initial grace period, etc. and the housing market started to get flooded with these homes … Ka-Pow.

    Greenspan by supporting “W”z ‘Consumer Economy’, is responsible too for failing to regulate the housing bubble (’cause everyone knows what happens to bubbles … the bigger the bubble, the bigger the bust). He chose to allow the bubble to continue so “W”z Consumer Driven Economy could use their homes as cash machines, since it was the only thing supporting economy ‘growth’ … and when house $ started to fall as they inevitably would, Ka-Blam!

    Due to the de-industrialization in the USA, the USA has had nothing to sell but more and more complex financial instruments. Without regulation to keep people from gaming the system, they gamed the system …. and Ka-Blewy!

    Canada, right next door and heavily tied into the US economy, BUT wit a regulated banking system did not face these problems or require a Bail Out. House prices in Canada have not fallen as they have in the US, and in some areas have continued to increase. … due to better regulation of their financial industry


  10. bbartlog says: 11

    Even if TARP is successful, as described, you should bear in mind that the full cost of bailouts must include the irresponsible behavior that they later engender (in hopes of a repeat). Moral hazard and all that.
    Anyway, the front-door bailout that is TARP is the vaguely responsible, they’ll-pay-us-back part that is trotted out for public consumption. The huge money loser is the MBS purchases undertaken by the Fed.

    More generally, we can’t see what the world would look like if TARP hadn’t happened, so it’s very difficult to say whether we would have been better off without it.

    ‘John McCain — totally f-ing clueless and useless.’

    I remember McCain saying that he felt interest rates should be zero (during the R presidential primary). He neither knows nor really cares about economic matters, so no surprise here.

    ‘Bush was right — we needed the most socialistic boost imaginable for AIG, GM, Chrysler and the banking system to survive’

    Then I daresay they should not have survived. Fiat justitia, ruat coelum. The country has survived wholesale panics and the destruction of large parts of the banking sector before.

    ‘No GOPers campaigned on getting rid of the most socialistic program in our system — Medicare’

    Ron Paul has called for the elimination of Medicare, though I grant that, first of all, he is hardly typical, and second of all, it’s not something that he puts front and center in his congressional campaigning.

  11. oil guy from Alberta says: 12

    100 billion $ investment gets you 2 million barrels a day. You guys can do it. Defund your EPA by half and get rid of that cabal in the White House. They want to steal 10 trillion from your economy with Al Gore’s hot air. You guys have have at least 25% of the proven coal reserves and elect a Democratic shape shifter senator in West Virginia. Come on America, we need ya.

  12. playwithfire05 says: 13

    I cant believe what I am hearing in this place. We are finally getting the GOP re-branded with a fiscally responsible emblem and we are wanting to go back and defend the GOP that lost the Reagan message (and with it the vote of confidence Americans had in them)? How about we embrace small government. This might mean we get a little more libertarian than some of you sound like you are comfortable with, but that is what we need right now. We cant blur our message by defending bush’s spending.

  13. left behind says: 14

    “Arlen Specter… outing IndyMac Bank’s troubles, starting a run on the bank, and exposing” wasn’t that chuck schumer? :?:

  14. Old Trooper 2 says: 15

    Interview With German Finance Minister Schäuble
    ‘The US Has Lived on Borrowed Money for Too Long’


    Schäuble: The German export successes are not the result of some sort of currency manipulation, but of the increased competitiveness of companies. The American growth model, on the other hand, is in a deep crisis. The United States lived on borrowed money for too long, inflating its financial sector unnecessarily and neglecting its small and mid-sized industrial companies. There are many reasons for America’s problems, but they don’t include German export surpluses.

  15. Toothfairy says: 16

    @OT2 #15: A related article “Germany Seizes on Big Business in China” by Anthony Faiola ran in the Washington Post on September 18, 2010. While the U.S. moved its manufacturing across the border or across the ocean, Germany concentrated on keeping its manufacturing base at home.

  16. Old Trooper 2 says: 17

    @ Toothfairy, totally correct and dead on. Thanks! :-P

  17. B-Rob says: 18

    oil guy in Alberta –

    I wonder: why is it that cons want the US, which has greatly improved it’s air and water quality and maintained the largest market in the world, to get rid of the regulatory agencies largely responsible for those improvements? Why would they have our air look and taste more like Mexico City or Beijing than, for example, Dusseldorf or Brussels? Makes no sense to exchange the short term financial boost associated with letting businesses do whatever the hell they please and release pollutants in the air and into the water, for the long term destruction of our crops, our forests, our water quality, and our health. You let polluters have their way today, then you are treating the asthma, skin diseases, cancers and mutations tomorrow. Let them pollute the waters today and you are paying for all the filtration systems and expensive alternative sources of water tomorrow.

    There is no “free market” for clean air or unpolluted waters. In addition, if you let polluters do their thing today you know what you get tomorrow? Lawsuits. Lawsuits by neighbors over the polluted wells and the health effects of releases that would not have occurred had the EPA not be destroyed, lawsuits by neighbors over chemical waste storage destroying their own property values, lawsuits between businesses over who is responsible for the health affects of two neighboring plants’ smokestacks causing a cancer cluster downwind. By policing the pollutants NOW at the smokestack, you avoid some other costs later when the pollution is down wind and sickening people and destroying forests.

    Get rid of the EPA and we are back to the Piccillo Pig Farm — an open air chemical waste dump in Rhode Island controlled by a “career offender cartel” (legalese for the New England La Cosa Nostra) that leeched all kinds of chemical waste onto neighboring land, into the water, etc. Get rid of the EPA and Chemical Plant A benefits by dumping its byproducts in the cheapest manner, ignoring what happens to those barrels of waste after they leave the plant; Chemical Plant B, which deals with its identical waste in a more responsible and more costly manner, is then at a competitive disadvantage. How is that GOOD for the general welfare of this country? In addition, when you make polluters internalize the costs they place on society, you spur innovation. It is not a “race to the bottom” that benefits the most wasteful actor over those who actually internalize their own pollution.

    You don’t see our competitors in Germany and Japan and England weakening their environmental standards, do you? So why do you guys want us to look more like China or India?

  18. B-Rob says: 19

    bbartlog said

    I remember McCain saying that he felt interest rates should be zero (during the R presidential primary). He neither knows nor really cares about economic matters, so no surprise here.

    It was actually worse than that. You will recall that just before the debate at Ole Miss, McCain orchestrated and demanded a pow wow in DC. He “suspended his campaign”, made a big show of it, etc. Obama didn’t want the meeting; Bush and Paulson wanted to work with Pelosi and Boehner (the House GOPers being a bigger problem than the Dems or the Senate GOPers). But Bush, for political reasons, calls the meeting — boosting McCain.

    So McCain flies in from AZ, Obama flies in from Florida where he was doing debate prep, all the Congress people are there. They have the meeting McCain wanted. Obama leads the Dems, Bush and Paulson explain the administrations position, Boehner weighs in (wants to do nothing), everyone talks . . . and McCain sits there like a friggin bump on a log. Does not say a word, then gets pissed off when Obama says “John, what do you think?” He mouths 20 seconds of empty platitudes, saying nothing even though they had met for a couple hours about specific legislative proposals.

    All the GOPers leave mad at McCain and wondering what the heck was wrong with him. Obama led the Dems, Bush and Paulson dealt with him as an equal player, and McCain, for whom Bush called the meeting, just sat there like he did not have his hearing aids on. He was just not up to speed the way Obama was and the GOPers were embarrassed. It will be interesting to see if Bush’s take on the meeting is consistent with everyone else’s take. Because I have read three different books portraying the meeting and they are all consistent.

  19. B-Rob: hi, DON’T you think, your over reacting the existing problem, and instead of pinpoint one company, they generalyse and bash all who want to be productive in the US,
    AND produce JOBS,
    WHAT you agree is STOP every companies and THE GOVERNMENT will take care of the jobless,
    WILL hand them monies to do nothing,while you get out to relocate in another COUNTRY, and make moneys and jobs for their people: IN the mean time, here we will be on the back of everyone
    and every animals any thing that breed air, and reduce their lifestyle with tax they must pay us,
    THE GOVERNMENT, to refill the reserve which has been spent.
    recklesly, because, GOVERNING IS EXPANSIVE

  20. Aqua says: 21

    @ B-Rob

    I reread Oil Guy’s post and he said cut the EPA funding in half, not get rid of it. And this is where we have a major difference of opinion in this country. You mentioned the Picillo Pig Farm, which occurred in 1977. J. Joseph Garrahy, a democrat, was govenor of Rhode Island from 1977 to 1985. His predecessor, Philip W. Noel, also a democrat, was governor from 1973 to 1977. His predecessor, Frank Licht, also a democrat was governor from 1969 to 1973.
    My point is, States should lead the way in terms of the environment. The whole idea behind federalism is competition between the States. Who wants to move to or live in a State that has dirty water or air that needs to be sliced to breathe. {Enter liberal talking point 1}: What about the poor people that can’t move to another State? This may sound cruel, but States aren’t looking to recruit the poor. At least they wouldn’t be if the feds weren’t paying them to recruit the poor. The Federal Government should be the least important thing in our lives. The nightly news should lead off with: “in Washington today, nothing happened.” Our local governments should be way more important.

  21. B-Rob says: 22

    Aqua and bees –

    What would be the purpose of cutting the EPAs budget in half except to stop enforcement of environmental laws and let polluters do whatever they want?

    The Piccillo Pig Farm proves my point: you cannot leave environmental law enforcement to the states when pollution knows no borders. If Kentucky allows people to dump into the Ohio River because they don’t believe in environmental laws, Ohio and Indiana and everyone downriver suffers. If Louisiana has lax release laws, the oil seeping into the Gulf waters from Louisiana’s refineries will affect Florida. So you want Florida suing Louisiana, instead of everyone having uniform and effective laws? How is that any better?

    And another thing — before you go messing with our environmental laws, please provide a rational discussion about why the present situation is unworkable. I saw Rick Perry on “The Daily Show” talking about how “unfair” it was for EPA to be rejecting Texas’ flexible permitting program, which he claimed had led to “remarkable improvements” in Texas’ air quality. So he wants states to control environmental laws. What he failed to point out, though, was

    (a) the reason Congress and Nixon created the EPA in the first place was that states were not protecting the environment.

    (b) we had a patchwork quilt of laws that were inconsistent and business needs consistency; you don’t want Mississippi businesses to have a cost advantage over Georgia businesses because Mississippi allows you to dump toxic waste in the river and Georgia doesn’t. And

    (c) Texas STILL has some of the worst pollution problems in the country because, unlike California, the state does nothing to augment the federal statutes.

    But you skipped my central point — why do you want us to go the way of Mexico and not Germany? Environmental laws enhance our quality of life and leads to longer life expectancies . . . because businesses are not permitted to let chemicals leech into the water table, or spew fumes into the air, etc., causing cancer, genetic mutations, asthma, etc. There is no rational argument for going back to the failed environmental policies of the 1900s through 1960s, especially given that science tells us that we spoil the environment at our own peril. I am not willing to trade my future grandkid’s ability to breath the air without a respirator, for some company’s short term cost avoidance and advantage over a non-polluting competitor — especially when they can operate using the same mitigation efforts as that competitor. Makes no sense at all . . . .

  22. oil guy from Alberta says: 23

    B-Rob are you serious? Your economy is flat on its back. You need the estimated 11 million jobs at 50k per annum minimum. You haven’t heard of sequestered co2. I’ve seen a billion $ system in Weyburn, Saskatchewan that captures co2 from gassy wells in N Dakota. Works like a charm. I’ve seen the concentration of oil from bitumin( 1 barrel natural gas equivalent to 2.5 barrels of some of the best crude possible). How do you like importing oil from cutthroat dictatorships? We have world class Candu reactors( not 1 radioactive accident) and Alberta is going to back a reactor to cut co2 emissions to next to nothing. We are the leaders in pitchblende exports. That new reactor plant will be a couple hundred miles from uranium sources. Edmonton is going to double refinery row by 2020. America isn’t stupid. Envirowackos are.

  23. Old Trooper 2 says: 24

    @ B-Rob, Cite your sources on your presentation or it can be called anecdotal or perhaps BS.

    @ oil guy from Alberta, Until we stop over regulating business, we will be headed for Third World Status in the US. The Technology is out there but our Gummint continues to behave in the stupid mode. If the Current EPA had their way, we would still be living in caves waiting for the wheel and fire to be legalized. The US has not built a New Oil Refinery here in decades.

  24. oil guy from Alberta says: 25

    B-rob, go to Ezra Levant.com and read his articles on dirty oil. Why is Al Jezzera leading the dirty oil campaign? Why do environmental wackos use cars and raise the thermostat in such a cold and huge country? Why do they eat meat? Hypocrits. Go hug trees and live in caves.

  25. JVerive says: 26

    The EPA does play an important role in the US, and has been responsible for reducing damage to the environment. Unfortunately, it has turned into a joke, and is the hand-maiden of big oil. Instead of killing or diminishing its funding, what we really need to do is put responsible people in there under the watchful eye of a public watchdog. Too much happens in the shadows nowadays.

    Corruption is too easy to hide in a bloated government, and this is one of the most compelling arguments for making federal government as small as it can possibly be, consistent with its constitutional charter. By restricting the size of federal government to the minimum necessary to carry out its clearly enumerated powers, taxation will be minimized, and with hard-working people able to keep (and ultimately spend) the greatest possible amount of their earned incomes, the market will take care of itself.

    TARP would not have been worth considering had the government forced insolvent banks to undergo bankruptcy proceedings AND if the crooks responsible for the swindles been tried in a court of law. Of course, the reason that didn’t happen is that government and the banking crooks were fully aware of the swindle, and hardly anyone (save a few scapegoats) in government ever really gets investigated thoroughly. We get a mock trial in the Senate with crooked politicians wringing their hands and promising to “get to the bottom” of the scandal du jour, yet there is no accountability. If government were minimized, and ALL but the most sensitive security issues in view for the public to witness, much of the ills we’ve suffered because of back-room politics would have been much harder to pull off. The bookkeeping view of TARP doesn’t come close to reckoning of the damage inflicted on the public.


  26. Aqua says: 27

    @ B-Rob

    Nevermind. Seriously, it’s like debating a stump. You have no desire to debate relevant points, you just want to post your talking points.

  27. jlfintx says: 28

    any post by brob

    Has anyone noticed how wonderful that scroll wheel?

  28. malize says: 30

    The truth of the matter is that we will never know what could have happened.

    If TARP was a true “loan” we would be getting it all back at the very least. My own position at the time was that *IF* you must do this thing, then do it right – from the grass up, not the top down. Force the liquidity through the bad debt holders at the bottom, paying off the corps on the individual taxpayer basis (after all the holders of the debts could produce lists of which citizens were being affected.) The TARP money would be administered directly from the Fed to the citizen in the amount required to make the bad debt “good” – up to the Fed insured limit, the “bad loan” would then be immediately re-done with that new money in the mix — the citizen would then owe the Fed the difference required to make their loan viable, this would be a no interest debt to the Fed. This would be taken out of their tax returns if not secured via some other means.

    Simultaneously Congress should have immediately reversed/corrected regulatory conditions which allowed the situation to develop in the first place. Something they have not done to date, so once all the pain and suffering wear off we could find ourselves right back in this exact same situation with a different wrapper on the loan product.

    Done in this fashion we repair the damage from both ends, pumping the water out while plugging the flooding – if you will. Coming out the other side both the corporate and individuals impacted would be in sounder financial territory.

    At this point saying TARP is “only” going to cost us so many tens of billions of dollars is akin to saying that frostbite is “only” going to cost you your pinky toes, especially if we are not entirely sure if it was absolutely necessary and certainly in the light of the method in which it was done.

  29. Wordsmith says: 31

    Bailouts are shaping up to be cheaper than expected:

    The U.S. expects to recoup most of its bailout money. The $700-billion Troubled Asset Relief Program is projected to lose only $25 billion. But Fannie and Freddie are still consuming taxpayer funds.

    By Jim Puzzanghera, Los Angeles Times

    February 28, 2011

    Reporting from Washington

    Almost three years after a series of government bailouts began, what many feared would be a deep black hole for taxpayer money isn’t looking nearly so dark.

    The brighter picture is highlighted by the outlook for the bailouts’ centerpiece — the $700-billion Troubled Asset Relief Program.

    “It’s turning out to cost one heck of a lot less than what we all thought at the beginning,” said Ted Kaufman, a former U.S. senator from Delaware who heads the congressionally appointed panel overseeing TARP.

    In mid-2009, the program was projected to lose as much as $341 billion. That’s been reduced to $25 billion — partly because of the controversial decision to pump much of the TARP money into banks instead of launching a large-scale purchase of securities backed by toxic subprime mortgages.

    There is now broad agreement that the bailouts worked, stabilizing the financial system and preventing an even deeper crisis.

    Still, many people are worried about the long-term effects of the government actions. They said that in demonstrating a belief that some companies were too big to fail, the government set a dangerous precedent, opening the door to future crises.

    Those critics also said that hundreds of billions of dollars in bailout money from TARP, the Treasury and the Federal Reserve will not come back, mainly because of the rising tab for seized housing finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which combined have consumed $150 billion in taxpayer money so far.

    “We’re not going to recoup those losses,” said Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee monitoring the bailouts. “It’s extraordinary, just absolutely extraordinary.”

    Fannie and Freddie, which the Obama administration recently proposed to shut down, are the main reason most recent estimates of losses for all the various bailout efforts range from $238 billion to $380 billion. || Chart: Cost of federal bailouts

    But Treasury officials think those estimates might be too high. They said the total cost of all the financial interventions is likely to be less than $140 billion, or 1% of the United State’s $14-trillion annual economic output.

    That’s less expensive than the federal losses from the savings and loan crisis in the late 1980s and early 1990s, which cost an estimated 2.4% of the nation’s annual economic output at the time, according to a study by the International Monetary Fund.

    In the recent recession, the federal government intervened with “overwhelming force and speed,” said Timothy Massad, TARP’s acting manager.

    “We stopped the panic,” he said. “We were then able to recapitalize the system very quickly with private capital … get the credit markets working again, and that laid the foundation for an economic recovery.”

    Government intervention in the financial system expanded rapidly after the Federal Reserve decided in March 2008 to provide a $30-billion line of credit to engineer the sale of investment bank Bear Stearns Cos.

    Hundreds of billions of dollars from TARP, the U.S. Treasury and the Fed were funneled into banks, Wall Street financial institutions and the auto industry as the recession deepened and as the credit crisis and a pile of soon-worthless securities threatened the worldwide financial structure.

    The bleak prospects for recouping taxpayer funds, though, began to improve even though jobs evaporated and unemployment rates soared.

    Banks have paid back close to all of the $245 billion they received, and the Treasury Department estimates that interest and dividends on those cash infusions ultimately will give taxpayers a $20-billion profit.

    Last year’s highly successful stock offering by General Motors Co. means losses from its rescue, along with losses from rescuing fellow automaker Chrysler and the two companies’ financing arms, are projected to be $19 billion — much less than what was anticipated when the government pumped about $80 billion into the auto industry. || Related article: GM’s profit in 2010 highlights big turnaround

    And a rise in the stock price of worldwide insurer American International Group Inc. as it sells many of its assets has reduced the estimated taxpayer cost to $14 billion on financial aid totaling about $125 billion. The New York company has vowed to pay it all back.

    The decision by former Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson in fall 2008 to shift TARP from its original mission kept the government from taking ownership of hundreds of billions of dollars in securities backed by bad mortgages.

    “It was clear in the fall that you didn’t have time for that because the crisis was too great and moving too quickly,” Massad said.

    If money had not been pumped directly into the largest banks, he said, “I think you then would have been presiding over a collapse of the financial system and potentially a second Great Depression.”

    On top of that, taxpayers would have been saddled for years with bad assets.

    A study last year by Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, and Alan Blinder, a Princeton economist and former Fed governor, concluded that TARP “has been a substantial success.”

    Zandi said the cash injections were necessary to stem the marketwide panic. Because TARP funds were not used to make large-scale purchases of toxic assets, which were riskier investments that it would have had to hold longer, the program was able to recover much of its money sooner.

    “It’s a question for the ages whether they did the right thing,” TARP overseer Kaufman said.

    The Treasury Department launched a much smaller initiative in 2009 to buy toxic assets through public-private partnerships. But that program came after the financial system had stabilized, and it spent only about $15 billion in TARP money. The program is projected to lose about $2 billion.

    The toxic assets held by Fannie and Freddie are leading to such huge losses that their bailouts could cost as much as $363 billion through 2013 — but only if there is a deep, second housing recession, according to projections last year by the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees Fannie and Freddie.

    A stronger housing recovery could mean Fannie and Freddie would need only about $71 billion more, the report said. Zandi said it’s possible those bailouts also could cost less than anticipated.

    “The script on Fannie and Freddie is still being written,” he said. “We could end up saying Fannie and Freddie didn’t cost us all that much either.”

    But the bailouts have been deeply unpopular. Critics point to them as a symbol of costly overreach and as proof that the government thought some companies were too big to fail.

    In a Newsweek poll last fall, 63% of respondents said the government’s actions to rescue the banking and financial system were bad for the country.

    But some of that anger appears to be fueled by misconception, Kaufman said. He cited a Bloomberg poll last fall in which 60% of respondents said they thought most of the TARP money would not be recovered.

    A good chunk of the money never was spent. Just $410 billion was distributed. And because the program formally ended last year and only its existing initiatives can continue to be funded, it will not spend more than $475 billion.

    Massad said Treasury officials understand why the program has been so reviled, but added that the public should focus on the bottom line.

    “We did what we had to do, it worked better than people thought, and it’s been far cheaper than people thought it would be,” he said.

  30. malize , hi, why are you so far way, we enjoyed your smart comments here,

  31. Greg says: 33

    @Wordsmith, #31:

    The U.S. expects to recoup most of its bailout money. The $700-billion Troubled Asset Relief Program is projected to lose only $25 billion. But Fannie and Freddie are still consuming taxpayer funds

    A couple of articles that might be of interest:

    Obama Administration Spells Out Endgame for Fannie, Freddie

    Frank: New Mortgage-Securities Rules Should Apply to Fannie, Freddie

  32. Nan G says: 34

    Republicans Shut Down Another Failed TARP Program

    The Republican controlled House closed one of President Obama’s Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) mortgage refinancing programs and rescinded $29 billion in unspent funding on Tuesday. The White House, however, released a statement stating that Obama will veto the bill if it passes the Democrat-held Senate.

    The House passed the HAMP Termination Act of 2011 on Tuesday by a vote of 252-170, 1 present. The unspent TARP money will go toward reducing the U.S. debt, which is currently more than $14.1 trillion.

    If we can’t eliminate a blatant failure of a program that is actively harming Americans every day, and costing them billions of dollars, then I ask my colleagues on the other side: What can we cut?,” Rep. Patrick McHenry (R.-N.C.), who sponsored the bill, said during the floor debate.

    The HAMP termination is part of a larger effort by House Republicans to close wasteful government programs created with TARP funds by the Democratic Congress and Obama. Earlier in March, the House shut down Obama’s FHA Refinance Program and rescinded the $8.12 billion of TARP funds.

  33. canuctruth says: 35

    People, People, People….our nation was founded on Freedom and libery and private property. A capitalistic sytem. This is what has made this country the greatest nation this planet has ever seen. Why is everyone so quick to leave the system that made us great? A free-market system has to have failure. When Government props up failure, we are finished as a free-market sytem. And we will fade away as a country. Never fear failure! We all experience it everyday. It is there to teach us to do better next time. These large finacial institutions need to fail. It’s the only way to fix the problem. Anything else will just string us along in stagnation and ultimatly the end. Always say no to Government when it trys to “fix” the free market

  34. canuctruth,
    yes, but it will be easyer to vote OUT the failed GOVERNMENT IN POWER in 2012,

    ON YOUR 24 OF NOVEMBER 10 OF 2010,
    ABSOLUTLY, and today on OCTOBER 19 OF 2011
    WE see it very clearly, hope you’ll be with us next NOVEMBER WHICH IS APPROCHING,

  36. Greg says: 38

    @canuctruth, #35:

    How would the average person have felt about the government not responding to the threat of mass bank failures that could have caused their personal life savings to suddenly vanish?

    TARP wasn’t a successful strategy because it saved the jackasses who nearly brought the system down; it was a successful strategy because it saved the average person from being wiped out by a catastrophic, cascading financial system melt-down. Its failure was in allowing people who were responsible to not only get off scot-free, but to profit from what they’d done.

    I’m critical of Bush for a number of things. TARP isn’t one of them. It was a rational response at a very dangerous moment. People seem to have forgotten just how close we came in 2008 to a total economic disaster.

  37. GREG what is going now with this administration is the danger of AMERICA,


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