Government Sachs: TARP Funds Just The Tip Of The Iceberg For Goldman

Goldman Sachs is planning to give back the TARP money it got last fall, “ideally in the next month,” reports the New York Times.

The firm is saying it just can’t handle the level of government oversight that comes along with the funds, especially amid the outrage over AIG bonuses. “It’s just impossible to run our business in this environment,” one exec told the Times‘ Andrew Ross Sorkin.

Sounds great.But before we hail Goldman as the embodiment of rugged American individualism, it’s worth remembering that, as Slate‘s Dan Gross has shown, the $10 billion it got from TARP was just the tip of the iceberg in terms of federal assistance it’s received since the financial crisis began last fall.

In fact, just to refresh everyone’s memory, here’s a rundown of the various forms of government largesse that Goldman — which last September was forced to turn itself into a bank-holding company so that it could take deposits, in order to survive the financial crisis — has taken advantage of lately.

TARP funds: $10 billion plus
AIG securities lending unit: $4.6 billion
Maiden Lane III: $5.8 billion
AIG collateral: $2.5 billion

Total: $22.9 billion plus

Let’s break down each of those items…

– Last October, Goldman received $10 billion in TARP funds, through a Treasury Department purchase of preferred stock. That’s what they’re now saying they intend to soon repay. (Also, Goldman got a much sweeter deal on those loans from Treasury than it did when it raised capital from Warren Buffett a month earlier. The more generous terms are worth an additional $500 million a year to Goldman, according to Gross. But that’s another story.)

But Goldman was also a major counter-party to AIG’s disastrous credit default swaps. As a result, Goldman has been the biggest American beneficiary of the various government bailouts of the collapsed insurance giant (which itself is almost 80 percent owned by the federal government):

– Goldman got $4.8 billion from AIG’s securities lending unit.

– It got $5.6 billion, almost twice as much as any other American bank, from Maiden Lane III, the Fed’s “special purpose vehicle” that it created to unwind AIG’s credit default swaps;

– And AIG posted $2.5 billion in collateral to Goldman last fall, which came directly from its government bailout, according to AIG’s own list of what it did with its bailout money.

Just for good measure, it’s also worth noting that Goldman is getting an additional several hundred million dollars per year in interest savings, according to Gross, thanks to an FDIC program that guarantees bonds issued by banks. Under the program, which is designed to make it easier for banks to raise capital, Goldman has sold $21 billion in bonds since November.

None of this is to argue that the government support was necessarily ill-advised. But it’s worth keeping this reality in mind the next time you see Goldman boasting about their ability to weather the crisis without taxpayer help — or media reports that buy into that line.

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