A Reversal for TARP

As the federal government has been slowly winding down much of its commitment in the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), the prevailing trend for cost estimates of TARP was one of decline (see, for example, here and here). However, that has changed with the release today of CBO's newest estimate.

The most recent estimate of TARP has the program costing the government $34 billion, a significant jump from the $19 billion estimate that CBO made in March. As you can see in the table below, the auto companies (specifically GM and GMAC) and AIG are the reasons for the increase. CBO cites lower market value for the investments the government has made in these companies (especially the hundreds of millions of shares of common stock) as the reason for the projected subsidy cost increase.

Still, the table shows that the subsidy cost of TARP is relatively low compared to the total amount spent.

Subsidy Cost Estimate (billions)
Area March 2011 December 2011 Amount Disbursed
Capital Purchase Program -16 -17 205
Citigroup and Bank of America -7 -8 40
Community Development Capital Initiative 0 0 1
Assistance to AIG 14 25 68
Subtotal, Financial Institutions -9 1 313
Auto Company Assistance 14 20 80
Investment Partnerships 1 0 18
Mortgage Programs 13 13 3
Total 19 34 414

While the cost estimate may not look as good, CBO has found a way to make TARP look good in another infographic. This infographic breaks down TARP by category (like in the table above), detailing what each part entails and how much has been disbursed, repaid, or is still outstanding. Certainly, it is a good graphic for familiarizing yourself with the basics of the program.

The changing cost estimate is now incorporated into our tracking of TARP on Stimulus.org.