GAO: Bailed-out Banks Paying Dividends

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

On Tuesday, the Government Accountability Office released its latest report on the Troubled Asset Relief Program. Like everything the GAO puts out, the report is long and wonky, but to summarize, the GAO thinks the Treasury is a bit disorganized: It hasn’t hired asset managers to oversee bailout repayment agreements and needs a better communication strategy “should it need additional funding” for TARP.

This is hardly surprising considering it was just last week that President Obama moved to fill the high-level vacancies at the Treasury. But it’s hard to see why the Treasury wasn’t on top of filling those spots sooner: the pool of available asset managers certainly hasn’t run dry.

The most interesting nugget of information comes later in the report, where the GAO notes TARP recipients have paid the Treasury $2.9 billion in dividends through March 30. Around $2.5 billion of that was paid by banks that gave the government preferred stock in exchange for bailout funds—the exchange otherwise known as the Capital Purchase Program. The Treasury has paid out $199 billion in CPP funds so far, so the government has recouped 1.25 percent of its money in the last six months.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend