Convulsions of the TARP
The Wall Street Journal’s MarketBeat blog had an amusing post about the evolution of the Toxic Asset Relief Program. A taste:
The Pre-Cambrian Period (2007-early 2008, a.k.a. The Entity): This plan, with Citigroup as its main beneficiary, would have taken the off-balance-sheet assets of various banks and fenced them off in a structure that investors could have taken shares in (in part to finance this festering pile of sludge). Citigroup attempted to prop up this idea for months, helped along by positive commentary from then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson — but it eventually died of its own lack of use. In a way, the newest plan isn’t much different.
The Stone Age (Sept. 23, 2008-Oct. 5, 2008): Mr. Paulson is given $700 billion to invest in mortgage-backed assets, designed to clean up the balance sheets of the largest institutions, which are struggling under the weight of their bad decisions. The original passage of this plan was first delayed by Republicans in the House of Representatives, but was eventually pushed through in the waning months of the Bush Administration.
Click over for the whole thing. One caution, it was written yesterday and the final category was based on the leaks coming from Treasury which purported to be describing Secretary Geithner’s new plan. Of course, after today’s disastrous announcement that Geithner has a plan and “what do you mean ‘details’?” things are actually looking worse than before.