Starting today, the Subsidyscope Web site tries to bring a little order to the government’s bewildering economic rescue effort. A project of The Pew Charitable Trusts and the Sunlight Foundation, the site will offer data and analysis on federal market interventions of all types over the next several years. What better place to start than the bailout – the acronym-rich array of stock purchases, loans and loan guarantees that seems to grow bigger each day?
We begin by offering a database of transactions under the Treasury Department’s Troubled Asset Relief Program, better known as TARP. Here you can find the name of each institution that got TARP money; its location; its size (as measured by total assets); and the amount and date of the transaction. We also show a breakdown of the potential subsidy costs of these stock purchases and loans, as estimated by the Congressional Budget Office. TARP transactions become subsidies when the government pays more than market value for stock or makes loans at below-market rates. About a quarter of the $247 billion allocated by Treasury as of Dec. 31 constitutes a subsidy, the CBO reports. In our chart, you’ll see that the subsidy rates for some transactions – e.g., loans to General Motors and Chrysler, estimated by the CBO at 63 percent – are quite high. The average rate for all transactions is 26 percent.
We’ll add numbers, graphics and documents to the site in the coming weeks and months. The aim is to make Subsidyscope a source of comprehensive, easy-to-understand information on the bailout and other massive federal programs.