Uncategorized — February 4, 2011 at 10:35 am

TARP program nearly breaks even, expected to turn $20B profit


If there’s one government program folks on both the left and the right love to hate it’s the Toxic Asset Relief Program (TARP). Started under George W. Bush and continued under Barack Obama, it seems everyone from the farthest-right tea party to farthest-left liberals hate it.

It’s about to turn a profit.

The program under the $700-billion financial bailout package that pumped money into banks moved closer to break-even Wednesday as another large financial institution repaid its cash infusion.

The Treasury Department announced that Fifth Third Bancorp had fully repaid the $3.4 billion it received from the Troubled Asset Relief Program. The Cincinnati institution received the money on Dec. 31, 2008 — some of the $245 billion dished out under TARP’s Capital Purchase Program to stabilize the U.S. banking system.

With the check from Fifth Third Bancorp, total repayments under that program have reached $243 billion, Treasury said. Programs that bailed out banks are now estimated to turn a $20-billion profit.

With this latest repayment, $243 billion of the $245 billion lent to banks has been recovered. Dividends from the preferred shares acquired by the US Treasury are making up the difference and are the reason for the expected profit. Kinda reminds me of the principle behind the health insurance mandate: spread the risk around, lower the exposure. I can’t wait until Big Money issues its thank-you to the American taxpayers.

You know, instead of this bullshit.

The TARP program clearly failed in some areas. It never came through on its promise to modify 3-4 million mortgages and the resulting home foreclosure rate is a blot on our economy and on our country. Also, there are still plenty of banks that are “too big to fail”. Unfortunately, with Republicans in charge of the House and plenty of Democrats in the pockets of the banking industry, true reform seems unlikely.

But, overall, the program has been a surprise in terms of its outcome. While it was initially expected to cost taxpayers as much as $300 billion, the fact that it may actually turn a modest profit is welcome news. I’m putting this one in the “not a total failure” column.

I’m just sayin’…