About a third of the money $700 billion allocated went to banks

I don't agree completely with "Bailouts Gone Astray," what was a bad program to begin with merely got worse in my opinion, but this is still worth reading.

Out of the $700 billion originally allotted, only $245 billion was invested in banks. With B of A now fully repaid and Citi and Wells on its heels, every major bank will likely repay TARP in just over one year. Several smaller banks failed, taking their TARP investments with them, but profits from other banks more than offset their losses. The Treasury now expects it'll reap an aggregate $19 billion profit on its investments in banks.

That's where the good news ends.

What started as a plan to plug the financial panic quickly became a grab-bag-o'-fun for anyone in need. Insurance companies. Auto companies. Auto lending companies. Homeowners. The city of San Jose even tried to get in on the action. If you needed money, TARP had a lot of it. A maddening irony of Michael Moore's documentary Capitalism: A Love Story, was that he (rightly) criticized banks for their TARP indulgences while forgetting that General Motors, portrayed in the film as the ignored bastard child of America, received more TARP money than any bank. The $50 billion GM received is more than Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS), JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM), Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS), and American Express (NYSE: AXP) received combined -- and all those banks repaid the amount in full, something GM can only dream about.

The beginning of the end
TARP started with an absurdly high figure, $700 billion, but passed largely on the grounds that much, if not all, of it would be recovered. That way, its long-term fiscal impact wouldn't be cruel. Many said this was hooey, but we now know it's true: Had TARP stuck to its original purpose, it would have achieved both goals of halting the financial panic and quickly repaying taxpayers in full plus interest with flying colors. . . .



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