The stocks of companies that have received government bailout money are down 5% this week, according to a new Nasdaq OMX ( NDAQ) index that launched on Monday. The Government Relief Index, launched Monday to track companies that have received greater than $1 billion from the government through the Troubled Assets Relief Program, or TARP, began with a calculation value of 1,000.00 on Jan. 5. The index, listed under the symbol "QGRI," recently was trading down 0.2% at 943.71 on Thursday. "This index allows taxpayers and other investors to measure the performance of U.S. companies that are participating in the government's financial relief plan," Nasdaq Executive Vice President John Jacobs said in a statement. "We believe the Nasdaq OMX Government Relief Index will be useful in helping investors evaluate the government's investments and the impact of the relief plan on the economy during this period of historical significance." TARP, pushed by Treasury and approved by Congress in October after Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy and AIG ( AIG) came close to the same fate, was originally intended to purchase toxic assets that have hamstrung many bank balance sheets. Treasury soon changed course, however, opting instead to decide $250 billion of the $700 billion program to invest directly in bank preferred equity stakes. Big banks including Citigroup ( C - Get Report), Bank of America ( BAC - Get Report), Wells Fargo ( WFC - Get Report), JPMorgan Chase ( JPM - Get Report), Goldman Sachs ( GS - Get Report) and Morgan Stanley ( MS - Get Report) were among the government's first and largest infusions. Citi went back to the government well in late November, when Treasury agreed to give the financial titan a second capital injection. Citi has received some $45 billion from the Treasury so far, as well as a guarantee of $306 billion in risky assets.
In late December, the government also agreed to provide $17.4 billion of funding for two struggling U.S. automakers, General Motors ( GM - Get Report) and Chrysler. As of Dec. 31, Treasury said it has invested $177.5 billion of the TARP funds in return for preferred equity stakes in banks. That figure does not include the aid to the automakers. So far, 24 companies -- General Motors is the only nonfinancial entity -- are included in the index. A Nasdaq spokesman says there is no limit to the number of index components and more companies will be added as the government programs evolve. The index is calculated in real-time across the combined exchanges and is disseminated in dollars. Nasdaq plans to establish other government relief indexes in the coming weeks, the exchange says.