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Treasury’s Hazy Bailout Accounting

It’s not easy figuring out just how much remains uncommitted of the $700 billion bailout, and Treasury’s new Web site isn’t much help. After Dow Jones reported last weekend that Treasury was refusing to say how much was left in the bailout coffers, Treasury finally gave an answer: $134.5 billion. It was a number higher than expected, or rather, higher than one would get by simply adding up the commitments Treasury officials had made for various programs.

We got a Treasury spokesman to walk us through their addition, and here’s how it goes. Keep in mind these numbers show how much money Treasury has set aside for these purposes, not how much is actually out the door. (Our ongoing tally of that shows $303.3 billion actually spent.)


Investment in banks $218 billion
Additional money to Citi and BoA $52.5 billion
AIG $70 billion
Auto industry bailout $24.8 billion
Financing for auto parts suppliers $5 billion
Mortgage modification program $50 billion
Public-private toxic asset program $100 billion
Small business program $15 billion
TALF (Fed program to spur lending) $55 billion
Total $590.3 billion


That leaves Treasury with about $109.7 billion left out of the $700 billion. You get to around $134 billion with a little positive thinking: about $25 billion will be coming back to Treasury, both in redemptions of investments and dividend payments, in the next year, they say.

As we reported yesterday, eight banks so far have either returned Treasury’s investment or declared that they will. If you add those redemptions to the dividends collected by Treasury so far, you get about $3.7 billion. If that pace kept up through all of 2009, Treasury would collect about $15 billion. So how is it counting on $25 billion coming back this year? Treasury must be assuming that one of the larger banks will be able to return its money soon -- Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, for instance, which both received $10 billion, have declared their desire to do so.

How far will that whatever billions are left delay the inevitable? The administration has been warning for months that it might have to return to Congress to ask for more bailout money. Meanwhile, regulators are performing “stress tests” on the nation’s top banks to see whether they need more capital to survive the downturn – an outcome that could result in more than $100 billion in additional investments.

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