Elizabeth Warren — head of the Congressional Oversight Panel and fierce critic of Wall Street and the bailouts — delivers a surprise today: TARP worked (for the most part).
The Congressional Oversight Panel’s December oversight report, “Taking Stock: What Has the Troubled Asset Relief Program Achieved?,” concludes that TARP was an important part of a broader government strategy that stabilised the U.S. financial system. It is apparent after 14 months, however, that significant underlying weaknesses in the financial system remain.
The Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) was the centrepiece of the federal government’s multi-pronged response to the financial crisis. While it is impossible to disentangle TARP from other rescue efforts, it is clear the program played a critical role in renewing the flow of credit and preventing a more acute crisis. The Panel found that this overwhelming fiscal response, however, created an implicit guarantee for major financial institutions that distorts pricing for capital and encourages excessive risk-taking. Unwinding this guarantee poses a difficult long-term challenge.
In the Emergency Economic stabilisation Act (EESA), the law establishing TARP, Congress established broad goals that went beyond the short-term objective of easing the panic. The Panel’s review found that many ongoing problems indentified by Congress remain in the financial markets and broader economy.