TARP 2.0 Looking Good

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The stage is being set for round two of TARP. But instead of just being upfront about the need for some more printed money, the administration has turned this charade into a full blown three ring circus. TARP 2.0 is now one step closer to lift off after a congressional panel revealed what anybody with a pulse knew months ago: not all of the $81 billion that went out the door to GM and Chrysler is likely to come back. And while improved disclosure is an absolute must when it comes to banks and the products they sell to individuals, the doctrine evidently has its limits when tens of billions of taxpayer dollars are being thrown about.

"Congress and ultimately the American taxpayer have been left in the dark concerning details of Treasury's review process and its methodology and metrics at a time when Treasury committed additional TARP funds to these companies," the panel said.
"The Treasury auto team failed to disclose to the public both the factors and criteria it used in its viability assessments, the scope of outside involvement in its evaluations, and its basis and reasoning for selecting particular benchmarks," according to the report. "Simply, its disclosures did not go far enough."

On the off chance the New GM fails to exceed its predecessor's all-time market cap high (which would put the taxpayer investment at roughly break even), the bailout for the bailout appears more likely by the day.

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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: