TARP Funds To Destroy Small Banks Next

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The Safecracker is in your little banks, cracking your safes. That is, Tim "The Safecracker" Geithner has apparently greenlighted the stampede of smaller banks that heretofore have unfairly been unable to avail themselves of sufficient government scrutiny and micromanagement. The changes will allow smaller institutions significant access to performance excuses and shareholder sympathy come quarterly report time and provide significant political cover for dismal results and the departure of senior talent that was edging out the door already.

Banks with assets of less than $500 million will be able to apply for capital injections from the Treasury's financial rescue package, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told a gathering of community bankers on Wednesday. Treasury has roughly $109.6 billion in funds left in its bank bailout package. However, Geithner said he expects to use funds repaid from large investment banks, in part, to pay for the new capital injections for smaller public and private community banks.

Asked about the prospects of TARP involvement, one regional bank CEO quipped "Why should regulatory uncertainty, contempt of Congress and political risk be just for the big guys in New York?"
Geithner: Small banks can apply for TARP funds [Marketwatch]

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TARP Charts!

The Federal Reserve has this new paper out about TARP that does a bit of highly suggestive eyebrow raising about some banks that shall remain nameless. They start from the awkward fact that TARP wanted everything in one bag but didn't want the bag to be heavy, or as they put it: The conflicted nature of the TARP objectives reflects the tension between different approaches to the financial crisis. While recapitalization was directed at returning banks to a position of financial stability, these banks were also expected to provide macro-stabilization by converting their new cash into risky loans. TARP was a use of public tax-payer funds and some public opinion argued that the funds should be used to make loans, so that the benefit of the funds would be passed through directly to consumers and businesses. So you might reasonably ask: were TARP funds locked in the vault to return the recipient banks to financial health, or blown on loans to risky ventures, or other? Well, here is Figure 1 (aggregate commercial and industrial loans from commercial banks in the U.S.): So ... not loaned then. But that's not important! The authors are actually looking not primarily at aggregate amounts of loans but at riskiness of loans and here's what they get: