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COP Report: $4 Trillion TARP Results “Mixed” (Updated)

John on April 8, 2009 at 7:42 am

The Congressional Oversight Panel has issued a new report. From the executive summary:

In addition to drawing on the $700 billion allocated to Treasury under the EESA, economic stabilization efforts have depended heavily on the use of the Federal Reserve Board’s balance sheet. This approach has permitted Treasury to leverage TARP funds well beyond the funds appropriated by Congress. Thus, while Treasury has spent or committed $590.4 billion of TARP funds, according to Panel estimates, the Federal Reserve Board has expanded its balance sheet by more than $1.5 trillion in loans and purchases of government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) securities. The total value of all direct spending, loans and guarantees provided to date in conjunction with the federal government’s financial stability efforts (including those of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) as well as Treasury and the Federal Reserve Board) now exceeds $4 trillion. This report reviews in considerable detail specific criteria for evaluating the impact of these programs on financial markets. Six months into the existence of TARP, evidence of success or failure is mixed.

Here’s the real concern:

[I]t is possible that Treasury’s approach fails to acknowledge the depth of the current downturn and the degree to which the low valuation of troubled assets accurately reflects their worth. The actions undertaken by Treasury, the Federal Reserve Board and the FDIC are unprecedented. But if the economic crisis is deeper than anticipated, it is possible that Treasury will need to take very different actions in order to restore financial stability.

The Chair of the Panel had this to say about Treasury’s responsiveness:

“As Treasury started this program,” she said, “they really had the notion that they would spend the money the way they wanted, and not only were they not going to tell the public, I don’t think they were going to tell the Congressional Oversight Panel.”

The Treasury Department recently unveiled a Web site dedicated to detailing the government’s financial stability efforts. On the site, the department promises that the government’s financial stability plan “will institute a new era of accountability, transparency and conditions on the financial institutions receiving funds.”

I’ll have more on Treasury’s “openness” shortly.

Update: From Hot Air’s headlines — Graphs that seem to indicate we’re on track for a depression. What was that about taking “different actions” if the recession was worse than anticipated…?

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Category: Energy & Economy |

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