By Karen Weise, ProPublica
After two years and half a trillion dollars, the federal bailout fund expired Oct. 3. The government can't start new programs through the bailout now, though it can continue paying money that's already committed.
We've been following every dollar via our Bailout Tracker. But with the program completed, we've decided it's time to get a bit nostalgic, take a step back and look at the bailout's recipients and programs that have shined -- and those that have flopped.
First, a Quick Bailout Refresher
In the fall of 2008 as the economy tumbled precipitously, Congress authorized the Treasury Department to spend $700 billion in a financial rescue plan called the Troubled Asset Relief Program. (TARP's spending cap shrank this summer to $475 billion as a result of financial reform.) TARP's largest programs included capital injections into banks, loans to the auto industry, direct support to AIG and the government's foreclosure relief efforts, mainly the mortgage modification program. Shortly after TARP, Congress passed a separate housing bill that authorized the rescue of the quasi-governmental housing giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
We've been tracking the aid for every recipient -- from local banks to General Motors. By our count, the Treasury has doled out more than $548 billion. Almost half of that -- $238 billion -- has been repaid to the government via interest, dividends, fees or repurchased stock warrants.
Some parts of TARP may be profitable as the government earns money from investments in financial institutions, but over all the program is expected to end up in the red. Because more than half of the funds are still outstanding, the total expense for the bailout remains up for debate. Cost estimates for TARP range from $66 billion (from the Congressional Budget Office) to $127 billion (from the president's Office of Management and Budget).