The government's bailout of financial institutions deemed "too big to fail" has created a risk that the United States could face a worse fiscal meltdown in the future, an independent watchdog assigned to review the program told Congress on Sunday.
The Troubled Assets Relief Program, known as TARP, has not addressed the problems that led to the last crisis and in some case those problems have festered and are a bigger threat than before, warned Neil Barofsky, the special inspector general at the Treasury Department.
"Even if TARP saved our financial system from driving off a cliff back in 2008, absent meaningful reform, we are still driving on the same winding mountain road, but this time in a faster car," Barofsky wrote.
Barofsky wrote the $700 billion financial bailout has encouraged more risk-taking because bank executives, who are still receiving massive bonuses, figure the government will come to the rescue the next time they steer their ships nearly aground.
"The market mentality now seems fixed that the U.S. government will continue to step in and bail out giant financial institutions," said Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. "The IG's findings confirm my decision to oppose releasing $350 billion in TARP funds last year and my recent vote to terminate the program altogether."
"The SIGTARP's report is just another reminder of how Congress and the administration have ignored the role that politics and government played in causing the housing crisis and the economic collapse while pursing other regulatory reforms will not fix the underlying problem," said Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., the ranking member on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
The inspector general's report details stonewalling by the Treasury Department over a recommendation that walls be built between managers of the public-private investment program, which uses taxpayer cash to buy bad assets, and employees of the fund management companies which sell the toxic assets.
Barofsky's report outlined 77 cases of possible criminal and civil fraud, including crimes of tax evasion, insider trading, mortgage lending and payment collection, false statements and public corruption.
One case concerns apparent self-dealing by one of the private fund managers Treasury picked to buy bad assets from banks at discounted prices. A portfolio manager at the firm apparently sold a bond out of a private fund, then repurchased it at a higher price for a government-backed fund.
A rating agency had just downgraded the bond, so it likely was worth less, not more, when the government fund bought it. The company is not being named pending the outcome of Barofsky's investigation.
Treasury said it welcomed Barofsky's oversight but resisted the call to erect new barriers against conflicts of interest. The new rules "would be detrimental to the program," Treasury spokeswoman Meg Reilly said in a statement. The existing compliance rules "are a rigorous and effective method of protecting taxpayers," sh
"This Administration will constantly strive to promote an ownership society in America. We want more people owning their own home. It is in our national interest that more people own their own home. After all, if you own your own home, you have a vital stake in the future of our country."" GWB
No one knows what would happened had money market funds " broke the buck" as they say. Or if people could not withdraw money from ATMs.
Congree should come up with a way to allow these institutions to fail in an orderly manner, rather than grandstand about was done in a crisis situation.
"He who does not think himself worth saving from poverty and ignorance by his own efforts, will hardly be thought worth the efforts of anybody else." -- Frederick Douglass, Self-Made Men (1872)