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In Praise of Community and Regional Banks

Last week my partner Rob Klingler posted an impassioned plea to the SBA and bank regulators to allow banks with less than 500 employees to be borrowers under the Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP as it has become known. Rob joined a chorus of voices across the country pointing out that community banks are small businesses too, and if the jobs of employees at a community bank can be saved isn’t that as helpful to the economy as any other small business? Unfortunately, the overhang of TARP appears to continue to cloud decisions in Washington and banks were excluded from receiving loans under the PPP. Irony drips from that decision. At the beginning of the last financial crisis, when the business fortunes of some of the largest banks appeared at risk, Washington rushed to their aid with TARP. Now, at the beginning of a financial crisis that is hitting small business hard, community banks are being told they are the only small businesses in America which must soldier on without government financial assistance.

In that context, isn’t it remarkable that small and mid-sized businesses across the country are flocking to community and regional banks for responsive assistance in the PPP process? My practice has always been a mix of corporate finance and advisory work for middle market businesses and consulting and board advisory work for banks. I like the balance and the perspective that mix brings. Over the past two weeks this view into two worlds has revealed to me the true nature of relationship banking, and the absolute commitment to that concept at most community and regional banks. My clients and contacts in the middle market business world have been frequently asking for updates on the roll out of the PPP program. That was understandable and to be expected. What I did not expect was the volume of calls I’ve been receiving for referrals to smaller banks from customers of large banks. Those calls often begin with expressions of frustration at the inability to get anyone from the larger bank on a call or even to respond to an email regarding the PPP process, and that the most frequent communication received is “you need to visit our website for assistance.” In an environment where hundreds of thousands and likely millions of small to medium sized businesses across the country are suddenly struggling, and with no sense of the near term path, it really matters to the persons running those businesses that they receive support, encouragement and, if possible, assistance from their bankers. It is in the difficult times when relationship banking really matters, not the boom times.

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10 Year Anniversary of the TARP Capital Purchase Program

Ten years ago, on October 13, 2008, the U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson effectively locked the CEO’s of the nine largest banks in the United States in a conference room and demanded that they accept an investment from the U.S. Government. Although we had front row seats for much of the activity over the ensuing years, reading the New York Times summary of that meeting from the following day still provides a sense of just how shocking all of this was.

While the U.S. Treasury simultaneously announced its intention to also provide the possibility of investments in other banks, it was a long wait for details, particularly for privately held and Subchapter S Banks.  Ultimately, over the course of the next 15 months, the U.S. Treasury invested $199 billion in 707 financial institutions across 48 states.  As of October 1, 2018, the Treasury has received over $226 billion back in dividends, repayments, auction proceeds, and warrant repurchases.

Of the $199 billion in investments in 707 institutions, as of October 1, 2018, only three investments, reflecting $24 million in original investments, remain in Treasury’s portfolio.  264 institutions repaid in full and another 165 refinanced into other government programs.  (The SBLF and CDFI funds were similar to the TARP CPP program, but were ultimately done under different congressional mandates.  While not necessarily representative of an ultimate cash return on the Treasury’s investment, each of these funds has also provided a strong return to the Treasury.)

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10 Years of Troubled Asset Relief Program

10 Years ago today, on October 3, 2008, President George W. Bush signed the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, creating the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) and authorizing the expenditure of up to $700 billion.  Pursuant to its obligations under TARP, the Treasury still publishes regular reports on its investments and activities thereunder.  The Treasury has also published a TARP Tracker that provides an interactive and chronological history of TARP.

The various components of TARP were not developed (and then further streamlined) over the next year or so, but the 10-year anniversary of the overall program seems like an appropriate time to look at the overall results of the program.  (In fact, the very thought that TARP would become primarily a program of investments in banks 10 years ago would probably have been laughed at… everyone felt it was going to focus on purchasing toxic assets.)  Over the next several months, we’ll periodically look back on the developments (with the benefit of hindsight), including looking at the launch of this blog.

While $700 billion was initially authorized, the authorization was subsequently reduced to $450 billion.  Based on the latest Monthly Update published by Treasury, just over $440 billion was disbursed and only $70 million remains outstanding today.  Overall, the U.S. Treasury has received just over $443 billion in cash back as a result of its expenditures under TARP.

While overall TARP was actually profitable for the U.S. Treasury, when you break down TARP into categories of programs, one can see that the bank investment component (which is generally thought to be the most controversial aspect) was actually the most profitable.

Looking specifically at the various bank investment programs, the government invested a total of $245.1 billion.  Of that investment, it did recognize write-offs and realized losses of over $5.2 billion.  However, it also recognized over $35.7 billion in income (primarily dividends and profits on sold investments), resulting in a total cash return of $275.5 billion on its $245.1 billion investment.

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The Positive Local Impact of TARP

The Positive Local Impact of TARP

January 3, 2013

Authored by: Robert Klingler

On December 19, 2012, the recipient of smallest TARP CPP Investment repaid Treasury in full.   Freeport State Bank got $301,000 under the TARP Capital Purchase Program, and repaid in full, including $61,900 in dividends and ’s main bank rescue–the tiniest sum among the 707 institutions that signed up back in 2008 and 2009.  Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, the bank’s chairman and CEO, Leon Drouhard, explained the critical role TARP played in stabilizing the economy during the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

“[TARP] has been a very important thing and it has been a beneficial thing . . . It’s always referred to as a bailout but it was actually an investment in the financial system of the country as far as I’m concerned–and that investment turned out to be a good investment for the Treasury, and the country and the banks involved.”

If all bailouts were as profitable as the TARP CPP program, much less as necessary to stabilize the entire financial system, perhaps the term “bailout” wouldn’t have a negative connotation.

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Trapped by TARP – An Update on the Capital Purchase Program

On January 26, 2012, the Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP) released its latest Quarterly Report to Congress.  At 302 pages, I can’t say that it’s recommended reading for anyone, but there are portions of it that may be of significant interest to those in the industry.

One of the central themes of the SIGTARP report is that TARP will continue to exist for years.  In addition to programs designed to support the housing market and certain securities markets that are scheduled to last until as late as 2017, 371 banks remain in the TARP Capital Purchase Program.  While I disagree with some of SIGTARP’s conclusions and framework for the issues, I agree that a clear and workable exit plan for community banks is crucial to financial stability.”  SIGTARP has recommended that Treasury develop a clear TARP exit path for community banks, especially in light of a steep rise in the TARP dividend rate from 5% to 9% starting as soon as late 2013.  “Treasury must develop a workable plan in consultation with the regulators and begin executing that plan to remove uncertainty related to these banks.”

Despite its negative public perception, the overall Capital Purchase Program is universally thought to have earned a positive return for the government.  While estimates for the total TARP program continue to show a significant cost, these costs are primarily tied to the housing support programs (which were never intended to be profitable) and relief provided to AIG and the automotive industry.  Estimates on the CPP program, on the other hand, range from a gain of between $7 billion and $17 billion.  Specifically, the Office of Management and Budget estimated on November 18, 2011 (using data as June 30, 2011) that the CPP would result in a $7 billion gain; the Congressional Budget Office estimated on December 16, 2011 (using data as of November 15, 2011) that the CPP would result in a $17 billion gain; and the Treasury estimated on November 10, 2011 (using data as of September 30, 2011) that the CPP would result in a $13 billion gain.  While Treasury may incur losses on some of the remaining investments, the program as a whole (even without considering how bad the economy may have performed in the event the Treasury had not invested in banks under the CPP), will be profitable.  Investing is a risk/reward analysis, and any investment strategy, especially when considering investments in over 700 financial institutions, should be viewed at the portfolio level.  To that extent, TARP generally, and the CPP specifically, should be viewed as a success.

Under the CPP, Treasury invested a total of $204.9 billion of TARP funds in 707 financial institutions.  Through December 31, 2011, 279 banks – including the 10 largest recipients of funds and 137 that exited TARP by refinancing the investment under the Small Business Lending Fund (SBLF) program – had fully repaid CPP or the Treasury had sold the institution’s stock.  In addition, 28 banks converted their CPP investments into CDCI investments and 13 banks have partially repaid.  On the other hand, 12 CPP investments have been sold for less than their par value and 14 are in various stages of bankruptcy or receivership.

As of December 31, 2011, $185.5 billion of the principal (or 90.5%) had been repaid, leaving approximately $19.5 billion outstanding.  Of the repaid amount, $355.6 million was converted into CDCI investments (which is part of TARP), and $2.2 billion was converted into SBLF investments (which is not part of TARP).  In addition, Treasury has received approximately $11.4 billion in interest and dividends and $7.7 billion from the sale of common stock warrants that were obtained in connection with the CPP financings.

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Treasury Scrambles to Close SBLF Investments

On September 14, 2011, Treasury announced additional disbursements under the Small Business Lending Fund (SBLF).  Total funding through the date of this release totals $2.38 billion to 191 institutions.  This is not even 10% of the $30 billion authorized under the program.  Treasury has stated in a whitepaper that 932 institutions ultimately applied for $11.8 billion in SBLF funding and that, as of September 1, it had issued preliminary approvals to all eligible and qualified applicants, 382 institutions in all for a total of $4.3 billion.  Best case, then, Treasury expects to utilize only about 14% of the total SBLF pot but one-third of the funds requested.

The figures in Treasury’s whitepaper suggest that there will be a rash of SBLF closings in the next ten days.  Under its enabling legislation, all SBLF disbursement must be made by September 27.  The number of disbursements to date (191) is exactly half of the number of outstanding preliminary approvals (382).  This will continue in dramatic fashion the exponential increase in the number of closings since the first wave (June (4), July (39), August (87), and September to date (61)).

The program remains a boon for Pennsylvania, home to the greatest number of SBLF recipients (16 institutions taking in an average of $10.4 million, eight of which used SBLF investment to redeem TARP funds).  California, Illinois, and Texas each host 13 recipient institutions.  By dollar amount, Illinois entities have enjoyed the most SBLF investment ($173 million, including the largest single investment under the program, $72.664 million to TARP-participant First Busey Corporation, parent to Busey Bank, Champaign, IL).  Forty-one institutions in the Southeast have received funding so far (Alabama – 3, Arkansas – 3, Florida – 9, Georgia – 3, Louisiana – 5, Mississippi – 1, North Carolina – 3, South Carolina – 3, and Tennessee – 11).

The top twenty-five SBLF recipients have received $800 million through the program.  Twenty-one of these (84%) used SBLF investment to redeem TARP funds and received an average injection of $38 million.  While in all, 89 of the 191 SBLF recipients thus far (47%) have used this capital to redeem TARP funds, these recipients have received 63% of the dollars disbursed under the program.

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Financial Services Update – March 11, 2011

OCC Criticizes Durbin Amendment

Last Friday, John Walsh, the Acting Comptroller of the U.S. Currency who oversees regulation of the nation’s largest banks, sent a letter to the Federal Reserve criticizing the Fed’s proposed rule to implement the Wall Street Reform Act’s “Durbin debit card swipe fee” amendment. In the letter, Walsh said the Durbin amendment “takes an unnecessarily narrow approach to recovery of costs that would be allowable under the law and that are recognized and indisputably part of conducting a debit card business. This has long term safety and soundness consequences – for banks of all sizes – that are not compelled by the statute.”

Locke to Leave Commerce for China

On Thursday, President Obama announced that he had chosen Commerce Secretary Gary Locke to succeed Jon Huntsman as U.S. Ambassador to China. While the President has yet to announce Locke’s replacement, speculation has centered on the former Mayor of Dallas and current U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk.

Attorneys General Mortgage Settlement Stalled

The proposed settlement by state attorneys general with the five biggest U.S. mortgage servicers leaked out this week. The proposal, which calls for a dramatic increase in loan modifications, is intended as the basis for settling allegations of widespread wrongdoing by the big loan servicers in handling millions of foreclosures. The settlement would be with Bank of America Corp, Wells Fargo & Co, JPMorgan Chase & Co, Citigroup and GMAC/Ally Financial Inc. In a press conference earlier this week, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, who led an investigation on behalf of the 50 states’ attorneys general, predicted that a broad settlement could be reached within about two months. Miller said the agreement was worked out jointly with federal agencies including the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp, the newly created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Justice Department. On Tuesday, Brian Moynihan, chief executive of Bank of America, the largest U.S. servicer, said at a meeting with analysts and investors that he opposes widespread principal reductions for homeowners in default. On Thursday, Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-AL) and Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), the top Republicans on the House and Senate banking committees, also criticized the proposed settlement as a “regulatory shakedown.”

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Financial Services Update – February 4, 2011

Warren Interviews AGs for Consumer Protection Agency

Reports this week indicate that Elizabeth Warren, who is interim head of the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, has interviewed four Democratic state attorneys general to be her permanent successor. The four AGs reportedly in the running are Tom Miller of Iowa, Lisa Madigan of Illinois, Roy Cooper of North Carolina and Martha Coakley of Massachusetts. The bureau is scheduled to officially start work on July 21. Under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act, which President Obama signed in July, the bureau must have a Senate-confirmed director to perform certain functions such as the supervision and regulation of non-bank financial firms.

House Republicans Release Top Line Budget Numbers

With President Obama set to release his FY 2012 budget on February 14, House Republican leaders on Thursday announced they would seek $32 billion in spending cuts from the resolution currently funding the government. Republicans framed their proposal as cutting $74 billion from President Obama’s 2011 budget request.  However, because Obama’s budget was never approved by the last Congress, the cuts would actually be made against a continuing resolution now funding the government. That resolution is to expire on March 4, and if lawmakers do not agree on another short-term measure or one funding the government for the rest of the year, they risk a government shutdown. The spending ceiling announced by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) represents a $58 billion cut in non-security discretionary funding. While details of the specific department cuts were not announced on Thursday, the House Appropriations Committee next week will release its bill detailing the specific department budgets based on the spending ceiling. Reports indicate that the Democratic majority in the Senate is opposed to the House Republican budget cuts.

TARP Program Breaks Even with Fifth Third Bank Repayment

On Thursday, the Treasury Department announced that Fifth Third Bank has now fully repaid its $3.4 billion in TARP loans and that total repayments and other income from programs within TARP (approximately $243 billion) have nearly surpassed total disbursements under those programs (approximately $245 billion). The Treasury Department also announced that current estimates indicate that bank programs within TARP will ultimately provide a profit of nearly $20 billion to taxpayers.

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Financial Services Update – January 21, 2011

Immelt Appointed Chairman of Council on Jobs and Competitiveness; Volcker Resigns

On Friday, President Obama announced that General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt will serve as Chairman of the newly created “Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.”  The Council will advise the President on job creation policies and on the establishment of a long-term growth strategy.  Immelt previously served on the board of the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board (PERAB).  On Thursday, the President also announced the resignation of PERAB Chairman Paul Volcker and dissolution of the PERAB.

SEC Issues New Rules on Asset Backed Securities

On Thursday, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) approved new regulations regarding asset-backed securities. Among a series of new rules which will take effect in 2012, one requires that financial firms that issue asset-backed securities assess and disclose the quality of the underlying assets, including mortgages, credit card debt and student loans. The rule, which the SEC first proposed in October, passed in a 3-2 vote. The agency’s two Republican commissioners, Kathleen Casey and Troy Paredes, opposed the changes. Another new rule requires that banks and other issuers disclose the number of requests they have received to buy back troubled assets. Starting in February 2012, the issuers will have to report how many loans they have repurchased, dating back three years.

Geithner Declines First House Republican TARP Hearing

On Wednesday, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa invited Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to testify next week before the Committee regarding the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). Geithner declined Issa’s invitation but offered to send in his place Tim Massad, an acting Assistant Treasury Secretary. While Issa could have issued Geithner a subpoena, he instead accepted the offer of Massad’s testimony for next week’s hearing.

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Financial Services Update – January 14, 2011

Consumer Products Safety Commission Announces Complaints Database

On Monday, the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) announced that for the first time the Agency will make public thousands of complaints it receives each year about safety problems with consumer products. The database, which was authorized in 2008 consumer product safety legislation, will be launched online in March. Until now, the only way for consumers to access safety complaints has been to file a public records request with the CPSC. The agency was then required by law to consult with the manufacturer before releasing information about their products, and the company could protest or sue to stop disclosure. The database, which is scheduled to be launched March 11, will be available at www.saferproducts.gov.

TARP Inspector General Criticizes Citi Bailout

On Thursday, Neil Barofsky, the special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, issued a report saying that Citigroup is still too big to be allowed to fail and could make future bailouts of big banks a necessity. The Treasury Department disputed part of the report’s conclusion in comments included in the report, saying that the Dodd-Frank law “provides the federal government with important tools that it did not have in the fall of 2008, which will be critical in addressing future crises.” The report now goes to the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve, however no specific action is required.

Bernanke Predicts 3% to 4% Economic Expansion

On Thursday, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said that the U.S. economy should expand at a rate of 3% to 4% in 2011. The Fed’s most recent forecast, released in November, was that the U.S. economy would grow between 3.0% and 3.6% in 2011 after expanding by 2.5% in 2010. Bernanke remarks, which occurred before a small business forum sponsored by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, also included his prediction that the credit crunch is easing and small business should see greater access to capital in 2010. Bernanke appeared along with Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairman Sheila Bair, Sen. Mark Warner, (D-VA) and House Financial Services Committee Chairman Spencer Bachus (R-AL).

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If you have any questions regarding any of these issues, please contact

Matt Jessee, Policy Advisor
1 314 259 2463

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