Alan "Ace" Greenberg: In Praise Of TARP and the Democrats

The $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program expired on Sunday, two years to the day it became law. Like a creature from a zombie movie, however, it lives on, with roughly $225 billion still owed back to the taxpayers.


By any measure, the TARP is wildly unpopular. Much of the public believes the TARP was never necessary and many believe it failed.

As debate continues to rage over its performance, we asked Alan "Ace" Greenberg about TARP, the midterm elections and the direction of the economy.

AG: TARP was hugely successful. Hugely. I don't know any government program that was as effective and ended up making people like you and me money. I mean what government program do you know of? I mean, ethanol, wheat, soybeans — do they make money for us? This program is actually going to return money on our investment!

LL: Which is a rarity now a days.

AG: Its unbelievable! You get your money back plus a good return. You know the options and the interest rate in some cases, the return on some of the stuff has been done and sold is like 30 to 35 percent of our money.

LL: Looking at the midterms, do you think the GOP wins are greatly exaggerated?

AG: If people want the party of 'no' they should vote for Republicans.

They say no to everything. If that's the voter's choice that's what they want, they should vote for them. I don't pay attention to them at all. They don't come up with a suggestion on anything. They just vote no on everything. They want to embarrass Obama and the country. I think every time good figures come out the Republicans all sit in a room and cry.

LL: How do you think the Democrats will fair this election?

AG: Much better than people think. I think when its time to vote, they'll appreciate that in a very short length of time, in a year and nine months what the new President has done for this country. He is getting us out of Iraq, he's trying to get us out of Afghanistan, he saved the banking system in my opinion. We have a healthcare bill now.

It was ridiculous that a country like us couldn't take care of our own people. We were worried about the rest of the world and didn't have a health plan to help take care of the poor and the helpless. So I would say we have come a long way in the last year and nine months. Its tremendous what Obama has done.

LL: Where do you think we'll be in terms of jobs as we go forward?

AG: Jobs takes a while. I want to point something out to you. President Roosevelt when he took over during The Depression, he had WPA (Works Progress Administration), he had CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps), he did everything to try and generate jobs and the country didn't get out of the Depression until World War Two.

It took World War Two to get us out of The Depression and to get us back to almost full employment. Its tough to get the jobs machine re-rolling. You can't empty the Atlantic into the Pacific using a tea spoon. It even the federal government has a problem doing.

LL: How long do you think it will take to get jobs back on track?

AG: Faster than most people think. Once this thing turns around, and people start going from pessimist to optimist, then companies will start clamoring for people and the jobs problem will solve itself. But there is very little the government can do to solve this problem. Very little. They're trying, but its difficult.

LL: Is it time? What is needed to turn this around?

AG: The state of mind of people who employ people.

LL: How would you characterize the health of the US recovery?

AG: We are making real progress. We are, we're making progress.

LL: Where are the bright spots?

AG: Manufacturing, the number of people that are applying for unemployment benefits... we are making progress. Also, look at corporate earnings which have been a big surprise for people in the last six months. That's a big surprise.

LL: Let's expand out to the global recovery.

AG: Some parts of the world have already recovered as you know. They worked out pretty quickly and we'll follow suit and I think Europe will probably be behind us but we'll see.

LL: There has been some concern about the foreclosure wave and those assets on bank balance sheets. Are you concerned about it?

AG: The new rules of the banks are really tough. It takes a lot of leverage out of them, so I'm not too concerned about the banks now.

A Senior Talent Producer at CNBC, and author of "Thriving in the New Economy:Lessons from Today's Top Business Minds."

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