Troubled Asset Relief Program:

Status of Programs and Implementation of GAO Recommendations

GAO-11-476T: Published: Mar 17, 2011. Publicly Released: Mar 17, 2011.

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This testimony discusses our work on the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), which Congress established on October 3, 2008, in response to the financial crisis that threatened the stability of the U.S. financial system and the solvency of many financial institutions. Under the original TARP legislation, the Department of the Treasury (Treasury) had the authority to purchase or insure $700 billion in troubled assets held by financial institutions. The Secretary of the Treasury extended the authority originally provided under EESA through October 3, 2010. However, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank Act)--signed into law on July 21, 2010--set a new spending ceiling for TARP, in effect prohibiting Treasury from incurring any additional obligations for programs that had not been initiated prior to June 25, 2010. A broad range of activities have been initiated under TARP. Specific initiatives have injected capital into key financial institutions; implemented programs to address problems in the securitization markets; provided assistance to the automobile industry and American International Group, Inc. (AIG); and offered incentives for modifying residential mortgages, among other things. As TARP passes the 30-month mark, U.S. financial markets appear to be less volatile than they were in 2008. But questions about a sustained economic recovery continue, and certain areas of the economy still face significant challenges. For example, foreclosures and mortgage delinquencies continue to linger and small businesses still face tight credit conditions. As a result, TARP has been transformed into a program that focuses primarily on preserving homeownership and improving financial conditions for small financial institutions and businesses. While many other programs have ended and begun winding down operations and some participating institutions have repaid part or all of their TARP funds, the prospect of repayment from some other institutions, both large and small, remains uncertain. This statement is primarily based on our January 12, 2011, report and focuses on (1) the status of TARP programs; (2) Treasury's progress in implementing an effective management structure for TARP, including staffing the Office of Financial Stability (OFS), overseeing contractors, and establishing a comprehensive system of internal controls; and (3) trends in key relevant economic indicators.

Some TARP programs--Capital Assistance Program, Asset Guarantee Program, and Targeted Investment Program--have been terminated. Others, like the Capital Purchase Program (CPP) and the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility (TALF), have closed and are winding down operations, and several programs that focus on preserving homeownership and that have provided assistance to auto companies and AIG remain active. (1) CPP, which closed in December 2009, had $30.8 billion outstanding as of March 9, 2011, and had received about $171 billion in full and partial repayments from CPP participants. However, Treasury faces various oversight and management challenges in addressing missed dividend and interest payments and monitoring repayment requests. (2) Funding of TALF loans by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (FRBNY) closed in June 2010, and no TARP funds had been expended as of March 9, 2011, to purchase collateral from FRBNY because no collateral had been surrendered to TALF LLC. TALF will continue to pose potential risks to Treasury until all loans are repaid to FRBNY and the program is terminated. (3) While the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) remains Treasury's primary program to assist homeowners facing foreclosure, the program had a slow start and has not performed as anticipated. Treasury announced several new programs in 2010. As of March 9, 2011, $1.2 billion, none of it recoverable, had been disbursed for TARP housing programs. Our most recent work shows there is more Treasury can do to better ensure the effective implementation of this program. (4) The Automotive Industry Financing Program (AIFP) had an outstanding balance of just more than $44.2 billion as of March 9, 2011. At that time, approximately $29.5 billion had been repaid, but Treasury still owned 33.3 percent equity in General Motors (GM), 9.2 percent in Chrysler, and 73.8 percent in Ally. While the auto companies' financial conditions have shown signs of improvement, their ability to fully repay the AIFP debt and equity investments depends on a variety of factors, which will require Treasury's ongoing oversight. (5) AIG has continued to receive assistance over the last year provided largely rests with the return that Treasury earns when it sells its common stock in AIG. (6) The Public-Private Investment Program (PPIP) continues to be an active program with $15.9 billion disbursed as of March 9, 2011, and $15.2 billion outstanding. Of this investment, Treasury had seen unrealized capital gains of approximately $750 million. Treasury still holds oversight responsibility for the fund managers until the fund no longer holds assets. (7) The Community Development Capital Initiative (CDCI) and the SBA 7(a) Securities Purchase Program are small business programs that account for a small portion of TARP funding. CDCI closed in September 2010, and as of March 9, 2011, Treasury had provided about $570 million to 84 CDFIs, 28 of which had already participated in CPP. SBA 7(a) Securities Purchase Program closed in September 2010, and as of March 9, 2011, Treasury had made 31 purchases of SBA 7(a) securities totaling about $370 million.

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