Was TARP a success or failure? It depends on who you think it was supposed to help.
But that hardly means everyone likes it. There is the failure to stem the foreclosure crisis. There is the worry that by aiding failing institutions, Treasury reduced moral hazard and left too-big-to-fail companies standing. There is the concern that the government ended up bolstering the companies responsible for the crisis, rather than people caught in it. The court of public opinion has long since spoken on the Bush-era, Obama-administered program. In a Bloomberg poll from October, only 24 percent of respondents said TARP helped. So maybe we cannot agree whether TARP was a success or a failure. But no one can argue that it was, is, or is likely ever to become popular.
Annie Lowrey, formerly Slate’s Moneybox columnist, is economic policy reporter for the New York Times.
Photograph of President Bush by Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images.