Saturday, October 3, 2015, marked the seven-year anniversary of then-President George W. Bush signing the government's Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) into law in order to help stabilize financial markets and restore Americans' confidence in the economy.
TARP became law in 2008 at the depth of the financial crisis, at a time when many Americans feared that the country was on the precipice of another Great Depression. Less than a month before TARP became law, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had been seized by the government and required a bailout of $187.5 billion to continue operations.
In conjunction with the seven-year anniversary of TARP, Rob Runyan and Maya Newman from the public affairs office of the U.S. Department of Treasury wrote a commentary on Treasury's blog examining the success of the program and what it has done to achieve its main goal of stabilizing the economy.
"Beyond the taxpayers return on their investments, TARP helped to stabilize our banks, keep credit flowing to businesses and individuals, save our auto industry, and keep millions of Americans in their homes," the authors wrote.
The economy has experienced 67 straight months of private sector job growth and the unemployment rate is at its lowest level since 2008 (5.1 percent), serving as " proof that the broad-based federal response to the financial crisis was effective in stabilizing our economy and setting the table for sustainable growth," the authors said.
"Beyond the taxpayers return on their investments, TARP helped to stabilize our banks, keep credit flowing to businesses and individuals, save our auto industry, and keep millions of Americans in their homes."
TARP was always meant to be temporary, which is why the government began moving to exit its investments and replacing government support with private capital after putting out the immediate financial fire. And while achieving return on taxpayer investment was not the primary goal of TARP, the program did just that because prudent execution helped TARP achieve its first goal, which was stabilizing the economy, according to Runyan and Newman.
In the past seven years since TARP was signed into law, the program has:
- Recovered $442 billion for taxpayers (including Treasury’s additional proceeds from the sale of non-TARP shares of AIG) while disbursing $429.7 billion for a positive return of $12.3 billion
- Recovered $275 million through TARP bank programs through repayments and other income, which is $29.9 billion more than its original investment
- Provided capital for 707 financial institutions through TARP's Capital Purchase Program, 688 of which have exited the program
- Helped more than 1.5 million families avoid foreclosure through the Making Home Affordable (MHA) program
- Saved homeowners a cumulative total of more than $36 billion on monthly mortgage payments