Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Bogus bailout profits?

Market Talk blogger Steven Russolillo points out that a few noted finance bloggers are incensed over claims that the government is profiting from the legion of bank bailouts.

More details from, "TARP Profits?! Pfft!":

"A few bloggers were rather incensed today after
The New York Times and Financial Times each published stories detailing how the government is supposedly profiting off of the hundreds of billions of dollars spent on bank bailouts.

Even if the Treasury is making money off the eight biggest banks that have repaid their TARP obligations, losses from AIG, Fannie Mae (FNM), Freddie Mac (FRE), GM and Chrysler can’t be ignored, bloggers say.

And other costs associated with TARP, such as lost tax revenues and stimulus plans, must be accounted for before discussing TARP profitability.

Nevertheless, NYT presents the case that taxpayers will benefit from the bailouts because Treasury is making money off the TARP, with Goldman Sachs (GS) and Morgan Stanley (MS) providing highest return on investment."

Steven goes on to quote the New York Times article's on the government's supposed bailout profits, while countering those claims with some swift responses from Yves at Naked Capitalism and Barry Ritholtz at Big Picture.

I suggest you read all three blog posts to get a full understanding of why counting up these early TARP repayments as profits ignores the much bigger picture of the full bailout costs. Good reading!