TARP's Inspector General: "Nope, We're Not Going to Turn a Profit"
Keep this on hand the next time you hear someone claim that TARP is going to turn a "profit" (a term which doesn't even make sense in this context). No less a figure than the program's Inspector General, Christy L. Romero, says that's just not the case. From her new quarterly report:
After 31⁄2 years, the Troubled Asset Relief Program (“TARP”) continues to be an active and significant part of the Government’s response to the financial crisis. It is a widely held misconception that TARP will make a profit. The most recent cost estimate for TARP is a loss of $60 billion. Taxpayers are still owed $118.5 billion (including $14 billion written off or otherwise lost). But the analysis should not be focused alone on money in and money out. TARP’s costs and legacies involve far more than just dollars and cents. Using a microscope to narrowly focus on the profit or loss of TARP risks losing sight of the bigger picture of whether TARP has been successful in meeting its goals and whether lessons learned from the financial crisis have been adequately implemented so that Treasury, banking regulators, and Congress do not find themselves in the position of rushing out another massive bailout of the financial industry,i.e.,TARP 2.0.
While TARP and other Government responses to the financial crisis may have prevented the immediate collapse of our financial and auto manufacturing industries, and improved stability since 2008, the tradeoff is not without profound long-term consequences. A significant legacy of TARP is increased moral hazard and potentially disastrous consequences associated with institutions deemed “too big to fail.” TARP’s legacy also includes the impact on consumers and homeowners from the large banks’ failure to lend TARP funds. TARP continues to be subject to criticism that TARP helped large banks but not homeowners. In addition, after 31⁄2 years, community banks have an uphill battle to exit TARP because they cannot find new capital to replace TARP funds. Finally, TARP’s legacy includes white-collar crime that SIGTARP is uncovering and stopping.