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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press Buffett Tells Country, TARP Gave Over $1 Billion to Goldman Sachs

Buffett Tells Country, TARP Gave Over $1 Billion to Goldman Sachs

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Friday, 18 March 2011 17:12

At a time when all the tough guys in Washington are making plans to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits for high-living seniors and to cut Head Start for low-income kids, it was generous of Warren Buffett to point out that we taxpayers gave over $1 billion to Goldman Sachs through TARP. Buffett probably didn't intend to point out this fact to the country, but it is an unavoidable implication of his $2 billion profit on his loans to Goldman. 

Buffett made his $5 billion loan to Goldman about a week before the Treasury lent $10 billion to Goldman through the TARP program. Buffet got 10 percent interest on his loans, while the Treasury got 5 percent on its loans. In addition, Buffett got a much more generous commitment of stock warrants, which is the basis of the $2 billion in profits that he is now set to pocket.

The Treasury boasted of getting a $1.1 billion profit on its loans to Goldman, but as Mr. Buffet showed, this was far below the market rate of interest on loans to Goldman at the time. The difference between the return received by Buffett and the return received by the Treasury was in effect a gift from taxpayers to the top executives at Goldman and their shareholders. When Treasury Secretary Geithner and other officials claim that the government made money on the TARP loans it is either due to their ignorance of the workings of financial markets or a deliberate effort to deceive the public.

It is also worth noting that the TARP money was only a portion of the extraordinary assistance that the taxpayers have given Goldman's top executives and shareholders. The FDIC also guaranteed tens of billions of loans to Goldman. Goldman was allowed to borrow tens of billions of dollars from the Fed at below market interest rates. And it was allowed to become a bank holding company, and thereby gain the protection of the Fed and the FDIC, at the peak of the crisis, averting a run that which would almost certainly have been fatal.

In addition, Goldman benefits from the implicit subsidy of its "too big to fail" status, the belief that the government will bail it out if it gets into trouble. This allows it to borrow in credit markets at a lower cost than if it did not have implicit government protection.

Comments (3)Add Comment
In Free Markets No One is Too Big to Fail - No One
written by izzatzo, March 18, 2011 6:28
In addition, Goldman benefits from the implicit subsidy of its "too big to fail" status, the belief that the government will bail it out if it gets into trouble.


Teabaggers Against Demand Side Job Creation heartily agree with Dean Baker and are proud to join him in denouncing the bailout of socialist firms like Goldman Sachs which indeed did not prevent a Second Great Depression and in fact, caused the Great Recession with the worst round of moral hazard since private contractors took over the Pentagon.

No one is above the law of supply and demand. Except those doing god's work. Except those too big to jail. Except those who don't pay taxes. Except those whose marginal rent revenue exceeds marginal rent factor cost. Except those who were able to choose their parents and income and education and occupation and have lots of connections. Except those who subscribe to the Obama Suppression of Competition and Monopoly Recovery Plan. Except those who ...

Stupid liberals.
$3 billion?
written by Derek, March 18, 2011 8:40
Doesn't it mean that the U.S. should have made $4 billion, thus it gave Goldman $3 billion? We should have made $2 billion for every $5 billion loaned to match Buffett's haul.
...
written by Richard, March 19, 2011 11:23
Don't forget the bail out via AIG. Would be interested to know if anyone's totaled it all up.

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About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.

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