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New TARP Reporting Form May Shed Light On Lending

The Treasury Department will soon release documents providing information about the lending activities of the biggest 20 financial firms receiving government aid under the TARP plan.

The first so-called “TARP intermediation snapshot” documents will be released Feb. 17 and on a monthly basis thereafter, according to Treasury spokesman Isaac Baker.

Treasury Building
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Treasury Building

CNBC.com has obtained a copy of the snapshot form, which seeks a wide variety of information on consumer and commercial lending activity as well as the purchase of mortgage-backed loans and other securities between October and December. TARP funds were first allocated in October, following the passage of emergency legislation.

In particular, the form includes categories on mortgages, home equity loans and credit cards, as well as commercial real estate.

"The report will track lending activities so that taxpayers can see how much banks are lending during this crisis and whether the program is achieving results," said Baker.

The Treasury said the first set of data had been submitted Jan. 31. The snapshots will be released on the 15th of each month and accessible via the Treasury's website.

Lending activity has been a subject of great scrutiny as well as frustration on Capitol Hill, where House Democrats have charged that financial firms are not passing on the benefits of government money received under the Capital Purchase Program, CPP. Under the CPP, the government provides capital in exchange for equity.

Former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson came under fire for not pressuring TARP firms to loan more to businesses and consumers.

House Democrats have also been urging the Obama administration to impose tougher terms on receiving TARP funds, including more conditions on lending, such as greater transparency

The Treasury’s plan unveiled Tuesday addresses some of those issues, calling for a “stress test” to examine bank’s finances.

More than 350 institutions overall have received funding under the plan, according to the Treasury’s website.

It is possible the TARP snapshot document could help in that process, but skeptics say it may be hard to differentiate between regular funds and TARP funds.

View the form.

"Transparency is a wonderful thing," one Congressman--who voted against the TARP--recently told CNBC.com. "But it is much too low a bar to say, 'Show us you made loans to good people equal to the amount of money we invested in your bank.'"

"Money is fungible," he added. "You cannot say what did you do with our money."

Members of the House panel tried just the same Wednesday, and, in fact, asked for it in writing from the CEOs testifying: Goldman Sachs' Lloyd Blankfein, JPMorgan Chase's James Dimon, Citigroup's Vikram Pandit, and Bank of America's Kenneth Lewis, John Mack of Morgan Stanley , Robert Kelly of Bank of New York Mellon , Ronald Logue of State Street Corp and John Stumpf of Wells Fargo .

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