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The TARP Has a $159 Billion Loss !!

Posted by Larry Doyle on June 30, 2009 3:27 PM |

The American taxpayer was going to make money on the investments in assets related to Bear Stearns, AIG, Citigroup, Bank of America, ad nauseum, correct?

Is it even possible to track the massive government outlays across the entire economic landscape? Is it further possible to measure the actual cost of the outlays as a percentage of the overall subsidies? Can we navigate this terrain without getting bogged down in the midst of a thicket of government data and statistics? You have come to the right place.

Our trusty financial primer, Subsidyscope (right sidebar here at Sense on Cents) has just released a report, entitled Estimated TARP Subsidy Rate Rises, which links to a report from the Congressional Budget Office highlighting all aspects of the TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program).

Just as “you can’t tell the players without a program” when attending a sporting event, “you can’t track Uncle Sam without Subsidyscope and Sense on Cents.”

What do we learn? Uncle Sam is still holding some TARP firepower. The TARP was launched as a $699 billion capital commitment. If you recall, the TARP legislation was passed as a vehicle to purchase toxic assets from banks. It has moved a long way away from that.

The TARP now covers 4 initiatives:

1. capital purchase and repayments from financial institutions

2. additional support for large financial institutions

3. financial assistance to automakers and related businesses

4. other actions, such as mortgage modification, TALF subsidies, and purchasing securities backed by Small Business Administration loans.

To be perfectly frank, I think it is very plausible that the actual capital commitments and activities ongoing under the TARP may not have met the pure letter of the initial legislation. That said, in an environment in which so many initiatives are capital constrained, there is no real legislative pushback. When was the last time we worried about the spirit or letter of our laws when we had bigger issues concerning money?? Money is more important than legal precedents, correct? We’ll get into that on another post.

On the numbers front:

Of the $699 billion in total capital, $142 billion has yet to be committed. Of the funds already allocated, Uncle Sam has incurred a total cost of $159 billion. What does that mean?

Recall the number of times that government officials told taxpayers that we would make money on investments in AIG and the like. Well, so far we’ve lost $159 billion dollars across all our TARP investments. The loss is calculated as the difference in funds committed and allocated to securities and the market value of those securities. That loss represents 36% of the funds committed and actually allocated.

Not that anybody in the media or the financial industry would want you to know that.

Program, here….get your program….step right up…program, here!!

Enjoy the ballgame, folks!!

LD






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