The government's pretty-good investment
Bloomberg reports that taxpayers have made $25 billion off the $309 billion they loaned the banks and AIG to keep them afloat:
The U.S. government’s bailout of financial firms through the Troubled Asset Relief Program provided taxpayers with higher returns than they could have made buying 30-year Treasury bonds -- enough money to fund the Securities and Exchange Commission for the next two decades.
The government has earned $25.2 billion on its investment of $309 billion in banks and insurance companies, an 8.2 percent return over two years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That beat U.S. Treasuries, high-yield savings accounts, money- market funds and certificates of deposit. Investing in the stock market or gold would have paid off better.
And that doesn't even count the benefits of avoiding the wholesale collapse of the financial system. TARP remains one of the most unjustly maligned policies in recent American history. The Democrats and Republicans who voted for the policy saved the economy and will probably, when all is said and done, have made the taxpayers some money, but it's a vote that many of them will lose their jobs over.
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