TARP cost estimates go up - again

Part of the reason for the increased costs is that government owned securities have dropped in value. But the controversy over accounting of the TARP program means we will probably never know how much the bailout actually cost the taxpayer.


The Congressional Budget Office said on Friday it was raising its estimate of the cost of the Troubled Asset Relief Program to $34 billion, primarily because of a drop in the market value of government investments in GM and AIG.

The new estimate is $15 billion more than the CBO calculated in its previous report.

But it is still "well below what was originally envisaged" when Congress created the $700 billion fund in 2008 to aid banks threatened by a rapidly unfolding financial crisis, it said.

The CBO's latest analysis reflects transactions completed, outstanding and anticipated as of November 15.

It estimated the cost of assistance to American International Group, aid to the automotive industry and grant programs aimed at avoiding home foreclosures at $59 billion.

However, the federal government will earn about $25 billion on other transactions it took to help financial institutions, reducing the cost of TARP to $34 billion, the CBO said.

What's rarely mentioned is the actual amount given to GM and Chrysler to bail them out. Nearly $65 billion was paid out to buy stock and bailout GMAC, the finance company. The stock has decreased in value and the government won't sell it until the price is right.

Any way you look at this boondoggle, it cost taxpayers far more than it was worth.