Hank Paulson, national hero.
So writes Evan Newmark in a Wall Street Journal blog. He praises the former Treasury Secretary for guiding the financial system back to stability.
“The TARP bailout worked. The Wall Street crisis is over,” Newmark writes.
TARP, the Troubled Asset Relief Program established by Paulson, is the $700 billion government vehicle for lending money to banks.
“By… Sept. 15, the first anniversary of the fall of Lehman Brothers, five of the original eight TARP banks will have repaid the American taxpayer $50 billion plus interest,” Newmark writes.
“Don’t get me wrong. The economy is still in crummy shape. But, at least it’s functioning.”
Instead of worrying about banks collapsing, “now we worry about getting full value for our warrants in the same banks,” Newmark points out.
The credit market rebound also proves TARP’s worthiness, he maintains.
“Who can doubt the amazing recovery of the credit markets? The best performing asset class so far in 2009 has been distressed debt.”
Newmark acknowledges that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke also deserves substantial credit for stanching the financial meltdown.
“But TARP was the beginning of the end of the crisis. And it was Paulson’s baby,” he writes.
Some see the end of TARP in sight as banks raise money to get out from under government oversight, following the Treasury Department’s much-ballyhooed stress tests.
Even, perhaps, a chance to invest again in institutions some feared were doomed to close.
"The Armageddon trade is off the table," said David Tepper, president of Appaloosa Management LP, a Short Hills, N.J., hedge-fund firm told The Wall Street Journal.
Banking "may be the cheapest sector in the market," Tepper said.
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