Where the Bailout Went Wrong: Parting Shot From TARP Inspector General Neil Barofsky (NYT Op-Ed, Video)
Apr 6, 2011 at 1:27 PM
DailyBail in Bank Bailouts, TARP, TARP investigation, bank bailout, banks, barofsky, neil barofsky, sigtarp, tarp, wall street bailout

Barofsky's last day on the job was last week, and he closed it out with an editorial in the New York Times and a final appearance before Congress.  He is leaving to become a senior fellow at the NYU School of Law.


New York Times

Where The Bailout Went Wrong

By SIGTARP Neil Barofsky

TWO and a half years ago, Congress passed the legislation that bailed out the country’s banks. The government has declared its mission accomplished, calling the program remarkably effective “by any objective measure.” On my last day as the special inspector general of the bailout program, I regret to say that I strongly disagree. The bank bailout, more formally called the Troubled Asset Relief Program, failed to meet some of its most important goals.

From the perspective of the largest financial institutions, the glowing assessment is warranted: billions of dollars in taxpayer money allowed institutions that were on the brink of collapse not only to survive but even to flourish. These banks now enjoy record profits and the seemingly permanent competitive advantage that accompanies being deemed “too big to fail.”

Though there is no question that the country benefited by avoiding a meltdown of the financial system, this cannot be the only yardstick by which TARP’s legacy is measured. The legislation that created TARP, the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act, had far broader goals, including protecting home values and preserving homeownership.

These Main Street-oriented goals were not, as the Treasury Department is now suggesting, mere window dressing that needed only to be taken “into account.” Rather, they were a central part of the compromise with reluctant members of Congress to cast a vote that in many cases proved to be political suicide.

The act’s emphasis on preserving homeownership was particularly vital to passage. Congress was told that TARP would be used to purchase up to $700 billion of mortgages, and, to obtain the necessary votes, Treasury promised that it would modify those mortgages to assist struggling homeowners. Indeed, the act expressly directs the department to do just that.

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Bloomberg with SIGTARP yesterday...


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