Tags: TARP | banks | bailout | taxpayer

WSJ: Bailed Out Banks Still Owe Taxpayer Billions

By    |   Wednesday, 25 September 2013 08:09 AM

Although it's been five years since the financial crisis, 113 banks still owe taxpayers about $2.75 billion from the bailout. As bailout debt is set to get more expensive, many question whether some banks can ever repay or even survive.

The Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) was meant to provide a short-term lifeline and funds were only supposed to go to healthy, viable banks, The Wall Street Journal  reports.

Big banks, such as Citigroup, Bank of America and Goldman Sachs, have cleared their debt to taxpayers. But many small and mid-sized banks across the nation are having difficulty, often missing interest and dividend payments.

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Once an institution reaches its fifth anniversary in the program, the quarterly dividend rate it pays to the government will rise from 5 percent to 9 percent.

That "creates an incentive" for banks to sever the lifeline, Ernie Patrikis, a partner at White & Case who previously served as general counsel of the New York Fed, tells Fox Business Network.

Some banks have already started scrambling to exit the programs, but a higher dividend rate only aggravates problems for those banks that are already struggling to keep up.

Twenty-six banks in the TARP program have failed or gone into bankruptcy so far. The Journal notes that the Treasury projects another $4.5 billion will never be repaid as a result of losses and write-offs.

"There are some institutions that we don't think can repay," says Timothy Massad, the Treasury Department's assistant secretary for financial stability.

"We don't want a financial system that is owned by the government," Massad tells The Journal, underscoring the government's desire to shed its banking stakes.

"The question is, are the community-banking industry and these TARP banks stable enough where it's OK for Treasury to do that?" asks Christy Romero, special inspector general for TARP.

"You don't want to have made such a big investment in these banks for so much time and then suddenly have them fail or be merged at unattractive terms," she explains.

In some cases, Treasury officials believe their only exit strategy may be to sell government stakes to private investors. But according to The Journal, this approach likely means losses for taxpayers.

An inspector general's report reveals that auctioning off stakes in 151 banks has already produced losses exceeding $585 million, The Journal reports.

"I think the Federal Reserve and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency have to exert a little pressure," Anthony Michael Sabino, a professor at St. John's University, tells Fox Business Network.

"A bank that hasn't yet repaid its TARP money has its own internal problems that might only be solved by agreeing to merge with a stronger rival," he adds.

The government has already turned a profit on TARP. According to the latest data, of the $204.9 billion that Treasury invested, it recouped $195.1 billion in principal and an additional $12 billion in interest and dividends, according to The Journal.

"The Treasury has made a pile of money. This is just the tail wagging the dog. These things will work out one way or another over time," Patrikis notes.

Editor’s Note: Add Up to $152,046 to Your Social Security Benefits Using Weird Trick

Related Stories:

TARP Inspector General: ‘Too Big to Fail’ Banks Are Still a Problem

Fed's Fisher Urges Bank Breakup Amid Too-Big-to-Fail 'Injustice'

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Although it's been five years since the financial crisis, 113 banks still owe taxpayers about $2.75 billion from the bailout. As bailout debt is set to get more expensive, many question whether some banks can ever repay or even survive.
TARP,banks,bailout,taxpayer
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2013-09-25
Wednesday, 25 September 2013 08:09 AM
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