March 31st, 2011
05:55 PM ET
WASHINGTON (CNN) – The controversial bank bailout program may have saved some financial institutions from crumbling, but a Treasury official said the rescue plan was actually “unfortunate.”
Speaking to a small group of reporters, Timothy Massad, Treasury Acting Assistant Secretary for Financial Stability said “it’s never fair to have to use taxpayer dollars to rescue any institution.”
“It’s terrible that we had to do this.”
Massad stressed the massive taxpayer investment was necessary in order to prevent another great depression, but hoped it would not be an option in the future.
“We have now reformed our regulatory system,” he said. “That gives us the tools to avoid having to do this again.”
On Wednesday, the Treasury Department revealed that its bank bailout, part of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) is becoming profitable.
Even though all of the 700 banks that received funding have not paid back taxpayer money, the program is now $6 billion in the black and could ultimately turn a profit of $20 billion.
The bottom line: Taxpayers have recovered $251 billion through repayments, dividends and interest, on an initial investment of $245 billion.
“The good news is that even though it was terribly unfortunate to have to do this, the cost is going to be little or none or possibly a profit.”
That level of optimism doesn’t extend to housing programs. The market is still plagued by foreclosures and loans that are underwater.
“We have a lot more work to do,” said Massad. “We’re still very committed to helping as many people as possible.”