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Big Banks

Taxpayers Still Bailing Out Wall Street, 8 Years Later

November 7, 2016

Eight years after taxpayers rescued the U.S. financial system, some of the country's largest banks, including JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo, continue to receive billions in bailout money, according to government data.


Wells Fargo is eligible for up to $1.5 billion in bailout funds over the next 7 years; JPMorgan and Bank of America could receive $1.1 billion and $964 million, respectively.


The continuous flow of funds is a remnant of the $700 billion bailout effort, known as the Troubled Asset Relief Program or TARP, put in place during the financial crisis. Some of that money, about $28 billion, was carved out to help distressed homeowners by paying banks to lower their interest rates and monthly payments.


The program, the Home Affordable Modification Program, has undergone several revamps over the last few years and fallen short of helping the 3 - 4 million homeowners the Obama administration initially hoped. But it continues to operate - HAMP will accept its last homeowner application at the end of this year - and big banks continue to be paid based on how many homeowners they help.


At least the money being paid to the banks is making it more likely that homeowners will qualify for help with their mortgages, said Alys Cohen, staff attorney for National Consumer Law Center.  “To some extent, companies are being paid for what they should have been doing anyway,” said Cohen. “A large portion of the bailout money didn’t go to helping individuals or communities, but this money does.”


But the stream of cash for the big banks is worrisome to Office of the Special Inspector General for TARP, as many of the banks have repeatedly broken the rules of the program, including kicking homeowners out unfairly or making it too difficult to apply for the help.


The banks and the Treasury Department, which oversees HAMP, defend the program.