Although November returned a divided Congress and exposed a divided country, Americans still agree on one thing: Even during this season of giving, we hate the bailouts. Treasury officials seem to get that, so during the past several months they’ve quietly sold off most of their remaining shares in small banks. The sale of these securities — remnants of $205 billion in TARP investments — will result in modest losses.
While the overall bank capital program will still turn a profit, this is the kind of story the government hopes will be buried deep in the business pages. Even “good” news like selling the government’s last shares in insurance giant AIG — and recouping the entire amount taxpayers put up — prompts a certain amount of public hand-wringing. Four years after the biggest of the bailouts, federal policy makers are still stewing over the choices they made four years ago — and struggling to put supposedly “temporary” measures of 2008 behind them.