TARP Profit Magically Gets Smaller As It Accumulates


Getting ahead, with Zeno.

If you're looking to spend your share of the profits from the 2008 Troubled Asset Relief Program, talk to your financial planner first. Every few months a new and usually larger TARP profit gets projected, reported or confirmed. But every few months later the TARP profit pulls a Chuck Cunningham.

In honor of today's announcement of a new TARP profit, here's a little victory lap in the Wayback Machine: 

 September 1, 2009

U.S. Turning Profit on TARP, but Big Loans Remain in Banks' Hands
The government netted roughly $4 billion – the equivalent of a 15% annual return – from  eight of the biggest banks that have fully repaid their obligations to the government, according to calculations by The New York Times.

 January 27, 2010:

How Uncle Sam will profit from TARP
The CBO projects the government will ultimately make a profit of $7 billion from assisting the banks: $3 billion from the Capital Purchase Program, in which the government propped up banks by purchasing preferred stock; $2 billion from helping Citigroup (C, Fortune 500); and another $2 billion from helping Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500).

 June 23, 2010:

TARP: A Profit For Taxpayers?
The Treasury Secretary said that more than half of the funds lent through the program have been paid back along with $24 billion in additional revenue.

January 27, 2011:

TARP Profit on Citigroup: $12.3 Billion
Overall, taxpayers are expected to end up with a $12.3 billion profit on the government's $45 billion investment in the company during the 2008 financial-sector bailout.

 March 17, 2010

TARP Yields $20 Billion Profit, Treasury Says
Taxpayers have now recovered "more than 99% (about $244 billion) of the approximately $245 billion in total funds disbursed for TARP investments in banks," the Treasury said.

 April 1, 2011

TARP's $24 Billion Profit: Some Demand a Recount
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said that while the government's overriding objective was to "break the back of the financial crisis and save American jobs," it didn't hurt that the TARP investments in U.S. banks "delivered a significant profit for taxpayers."

July 5, 2011

Treasury announces $10 billion in TARP profit from banks
Treasury now estimates that when all is said and done, the section of TARP devoted to banks will net taxpayers a $20 billion profit.

 April 12, 2012:

Treasury: Taxpayers Likely to Profit From Financial Rescue Programs
When housing programs are excluded, the Treasury now expects a $2 billion TARP profit.

April 13, 2012:

Treasury Says TARP Is Turning Into A Moneymaker For Taxpayers
TARP housing programs will lose $16 billion or $46 billion, depending on whether you take the view from the Congressional Budget Office or the White House's Office of Management And Budget.

More about bailouts repaid in full: 

NEXT: Shocker: TV Stations Balk at Giving Advertising Competitors an Edge

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. The return on the subset of TARP investments that individually returned at least 15% is over 15%!

    1. Of course, that 15% was created by dumping money into other massively money-losing bailouts, but they don’t count.

  2. Can I just say that the word “taxpayer” has no place in articles like this? The taxpayers aren’t seeing a profit/loss from TARP, have not invested in GM, etc. The federal government did.

    /pedantic peeve off

    1. TARP: A Profit For Taxpayers?

      I’d like to second what RC Dean said.

      The government may have been paid back, but paying the government back and paying me (a taxpayer) back are two different things.

      The money the government was paid back? Was not used to retire $700 billion in treasury debt. There was no $700 billion tax cut. So how can anyone who knows what they’re talking about say the taxpayers were paid back?

      Every penny that was “paid back” (to the government) was respent by way of the stimulus as far as I can tell…

      Most of the money the government raised for TARP came from the sale of ten year treasuries. That means the money still hasn’t come out of our paychecks yet. When that principal comes due, however, it will still come out of our paychecks.

      …which is all to say, the TARP money hasn’t even come out of our paychecks yet!

      If the principal hasn’t come out of our paychecks yet, then how can anyone who knows what they’re talking about say the taxpayers were paid back?

      1. Show me $700 billion in debt retired, or show me $700 billion in taxes cut…

        Until then? The taxpayers have NOT been paid back.

        Taxpayers made a profit? A profit?!

        In what strange world is losing $700 billion in earned income considered a profit?

  3. “Treasury Says TARP Is Turning Into A Moneymaker For Taxpayers”
    OK, and then:
    “TARP housing programs will lose $16 billion or $46 billion, depending on whether you take the view from the Congressional Budget Office or the White House’s Office of Management And Budget.”
    Making money by losing $XBn sounds like, well, government accounting.
    Any private company that made that claim would be called before the courts.

  4. In other news, a group of Obama’s Secret Service detachment – like a dozen of’em – just got sent back from Colombia for, ahem, hooker problems. Good to see all the TARProfits at work.

    1. Holy fucking shit. Is there anybody with any integrity at all working for the federal government?*

      *Nothing wrong with prostitution, but shit, at least wait until you’re not at work before getting yourself some herp clam.

    2. Isn’t that a security problem? Could blackmail agents that are seeing hookers. You’d think they’d screen for that sort of thing.

  5. If squandering $700 billion (plus interest) of the taxpayers’ future earned income was such a genius move, then why isn’t Obama advocating doing it again?

    I admit, Obama was only responsible for doing his half–to the tune of $350 billion. But if TARP was such a stroke of genius and it netted the taxpayer so much of a “profit”, then why isn’t Obama trying to do it again?

    By the way, that $700 billion (plus interest)? A lot of that would have been consumer discretionary spending. That’s right. Obama the Genius squandered $350 billion (plus interest), that mostly would have been future discretionary spending, on past mistakes!

    …and people wonder why the economy hasn’t been growing?

    Jesus Christ, he ate all of our seed corn and sold us on trusting in his magic TARP beans! And now that he’s up for reelection, he wants us all to think they worked just as advertised?

    That’s insulting to my intelligence. Obama thinks we’re all idiots. …but he’s only right about the people who really believe him.

    1. …and people wonder why the economy hasn’t been growing?

      “People” aren’t wondering anything. Those who provide cover for him, however, declare on a nearly daily basis that it’s not Obama that’s the problem, but that the economy just isn’t doing what it’s told to do.

  6. Obama thinks we’re all idiots…

    Unless he is among the most cynical and craven of men (and I am not saying he couldn’t be), I think it more likely that the President doesn’t truly understand what these numbers mean and where they originate. He relies on experts to provide him with numbers and data, and PR people to determine who needs to hear what set of numbers they think WE need to hear.

    In other words, he doesn’t understand it any more than the average American, but if good-sounding news can be manufactured about it, he will try to use that news to his advantage.

    Most of the journalists who report on this crap just repeat verbatim whatever’s in the press release, anyway.

    1. In other words, he doesn’t understand it any more than the average American, but if good-sounding news can be manufactured about it, he will try to use that news to his advantage.

      But he must know the difference between what he did and what Wall Street did.

      I know he’s standing there saying, “Wall Street made me do it”, but he has to know his spending $350 billion to bail out stuff that had nothing to do with Lehman or Bear–and then turn around and spend the money that was “paid back” on stimulus? He must know it wasn’t Wall Street that did that.

      Wall Street didn’t spend that TARP money. Bush and Obama did. Wall Street didn’t push through the stimulus. Obama did.

      He must know what he himself did, doesn’t he? Otherwise, he’s not just economically illiterate–he’s certifiably insane.

      1. I’m sure he knows what he did. I’m less convinced he understands what he did, nor does he care to understand it. He’ll spin it however he’s told to spin it, and his idiot supporters will eat it up.

  7. Everyone’s talking like TARP was Obama’s idea. Sure, he voted for it as Senator and supported it, but it was Bush’s baby. Well, it was Henry Paulson’s baby and Bush went along wholeheartedly with it. Obama would have done the same, but…well, who cares. It’s all the same crap.

    1. Bush did half of it.

      Obama did exactly the other half.

      Obama fought to get his half approved through Congress after he had been elected…

      “TARP Vote: Obama Wins, Senate Effectively Approves $350 Billion”…..58292.html

      That’s from February 15, 2009. It was the first thing Obama did when he came into office.

      You’re wrong on the facts.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.