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October 14, 2011

The Wall Street Bailouts DID NOT Make a Profit

The Wall Street bailouts cost trillions and many of those costs continue today.  There is no accurate, honest and complete accounting of the bailout costs that results in a profit, but that myth, indeed, that lie, continues to be spread by some who don’t know better, but by many who do or should know better.

The latest example happened this morning when I read “OBAMA TO TOUT BAILOUTS – No, not THOSE bailouts. You won’t find anyone running for president (or anything else) in 2012 on the success of the Wall Street bailouts (which by some measures made a profit).”

However, the ONLY measure that could possibly result in finding a profit from the “Wall Street bailouts” is one that (1) misleadingly focuses on one or two of the many bailout programs, (2) ignores all the other programs, interventions and massive costs, and (3) then makes many very aggressive assumptions, some going out more than ten years.

While that looks a lot like the smoke and mirrors often used by Wall Street, it still doesn’t show that the “Wall Street bailouts” made “a profit.”

The common poster child for this inaccurate and misleading argument is the $700 billion TARP bailout fund (the Troubled Asset Relief Program).  TARP was used by President George W. Bush’s Treasury Secretary Paulson to invest in innumerable US banks in the Fall of 2008 and it was later used to invest in US auto manufacturers.  The favorite spin of the “we made money” argument is that TARP made a profit.  But, as demonstrated below, even that  narrow, one-program argument isn’t true.  Yet, that doesn’t keep the bank apologists from continuing to make the assertion.

The most recent egregious example of this is Erin Burnett, formerly of CNBC and now of CNN.  She asserted as indisputable fact that “taxpayers actually made money on the Wall Street bailout” when she was beating up on one of the Occupy Wall Street protesters the other day on her new show.  Leaving aside the egregious lack of professionalism, she was simply totally wrong on the facts, even as to TARP not to mention the full range of “Wall Street bailouts.”

To say the “bailouts did not make a profit” isn’t an argument.  It is a fact based on data from the Department of the Treasury which runs the program:  $122 billion of TARP money is still outstanding.  

It isn’t necessary to detail the rebuttal of Burnett’s baseless assertion on the bailouts here, because so many others have done it so well and so completely.  For example, the Daily Bail put together the compelling facts and has updated them.  And, don’t miss this comprehensive article not only on Burnett’s debacle, but also on the larger issue of the media continuing to misreport this issue and the larger story.



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