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Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP)


The Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) is a U.S. government program created in 2008 to stabilize the financial system during the global financial crisis. TARP aimed to achieve this by purchasing troubled companies’ assets and equity. It was primarily targeted at banks and other financial institutions that were at risk of collapse due to a crisis of confidence.


The phonetic pronunciation of the keyword “Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP)” can be broken down as follows:Troubled: TRUH-buld Asset: A-set Relief: ri-LEEF Program: PROH-gram TARP: TARP

Key Takeaways

  1. Financial Stability: TARP was designed during the 2008 financial crisis to safeguard the financial system. The aim was to stabilize the economy by injecting capital into struggling institutions, particularly financial firms that had substantial risky assets or “troubled assets” on their books.
  2. Wide range of impact : Although initially intended to support banks, TARP’s scope extended to other sectors as well. It provided assistance to automotive companies and insurance firms. Moreover, the program included initiatives to launch public-private partnerships aimed at stabilizing the real estate market.
  3. Overall evaluation : The perception and evaluation of TARP tend to be mixed. Critics argue it helped large corporations more than ordinary citizens, while others maintain that it played a crucial role in stabilizing the economy during a critical time. Over a decade later, the U.S. government has largely recouped its expenditures, but opinions still remain divided on the program’s effectiveness and impact.


The Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) is significant because it played a crucial role in stabilizing the U.S. financial system during the 2008 financial crisis. This federal program allowed the U.S. government to purchase or insure up to $700 billion of “troubled assets,” primarily to bolster the financial sector and prevent a collapse of the economy. TARP was instrumental in recapitalizing the banks and other financial institutions, preventing a larger financial meltdown. Over time, it helped restore confidence in the financial system, significantly contributing to the recovery of the U.S. economy. Consequently, it is an important reference for policymakers and economists studying crisis management and financial stabilization efforts.


The Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) was enacted primarily to preserve the stability of the U.S. financial system during the 2008 financial crisis. Amidst rapidly declining confidence in the financial markets, acute liquidity challenges, and widespread uncertainty, TARP was implemented as a measure to prevent the financial sector’s collapse. The U.S. Treasury used TARP to inject capital into banks, assist struggling automobile industries, and facilitate programs to modify struggling homeowners’ mortgage loans, making them more manageable.TARP’s mission was to boost the economy by improving liquidity and confidence within the market and helping institutions return to normal functioning. The idea was not only to help “troubled assets,” such as securities tied to high-risk mortgages but also to directly strengthen institutions that were dramatically affected by the crisis, such as automakers and insurance companies. Part of the TARP funds were also allocated to programs aimed at helping homeowners facing foreclosure or struggling with their mortgage payments, underscoring its utility as a policy tool against financial instability and economic crisis.


1. Bank of America: In 2008, Bank of America received one of the biggest bailouts from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). The company received $45 billion in capital from this program. The U.S. Treasury provided financial assistance to stabilize the bank during the financial crisis, which was caused by exposure to bad loans and securities backed by mortgages.2. General Motors: General Motors (GM) went bankrupt during the 2008 Great Recession. GM’s troubles were severe, that the company needed federal help to stay afloat. Therefore, under TARP, the company received approximately $50 billion. The financial assistance helped GM restructure its business and emerge from bankruptcy protection.3. American International Group (AIG): AIG, a multinational insurance corporation, received bailout funds amounting to approximately $180 billion from the US Treasury and Federal Reserve Bank due to the subprime mortgage crisis. TARP played a significant role in acquiring the troubled assets of AIG to prevent its collapse and the potential adverse effects to the global financial systems.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP)?

The Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) is a program initiated by the U.S. government in 2008 in response to the financial crisis. It was designed to stabilize the financial system by purchasing or insuring troubled assets of banks and other financial institutions.

When was TARP implemented?

TARP was implemented in October 2008 as part of the government’s response to the financial crisis.

How does TARP work?

TARP works by allowing the U.S. Treasury to purchase or insure troubled assets to stabilize the financial system. The idea is to increase the liquidity of these assets and thus prevent financial institutions from going under.

How much money was authorized for TARP?

TARP was originally authorized to expend $700 billion. However, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act later reduced this authorization to $475 billion.

Who manages TARP?

TARP is managed by the Office of Financial Stability (OFS), which is within the Department of the Treasury.

How was TARP funded?

TARP was funded through the issue of Treasury securities, effectively government borrowing. The interest and principal on these securities are paid by US taxpayers.

Who benefited from TARP?

TARP primarily benefitted financial institutions that were at risk of insolvency due to troubled assets. By purchasing or insuring such assets, the program aimed to prevent financial institution failure and stabilize the economy.

What happened to the money recouped from TARP?

The money recouped from TARP, except for funds used to provide additional aid to AIG, has been used to repay the U.S. federal debt and reduce the budget deficit.

Was TARP successful?

While controversial, many believe TARP helped prevent a more serious financial crisis and stabilize the economy by restoring investor and consumer confidence. However, whether the costs, including the moral hazard it created by bailing out financial institutions, were worth the benefits is still subject to debate.

: Is TARP still ongoing?

: The authority to make new financial commitments under TARP ended on October 3, 2010. However, OFS continues to monitor compliance for investments remaining in TARP programs, and certain programs related to the housing market continued for several years after this date.

Related Finance Terms

  • Financial Stability Plan
  • Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008
  • Credit Market Disruptions
  • Public-Private Investment Program (PPIP)
  • Capital Purchase Program

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