Unless you’re a banker, you probably haven’t noticed that some banks are getting another helping hand from tax payers. A couple of years ago we citizens gave loans to bankrupt banks so that they could look solvent. That was called the Troubled Asset Relief Program. (Troubled Asset sounds so much nicer than flat-broke or busted.)
Nowadays those same banks, having been to the brink of insolvency, won’t lend unless they’re very, very, very sure they’ll get it all back with interest. As a result, small business are justifiably complaining that banks aren’t lending money, even when it’s a safe bet they’ll get repaid. Small businesses create the bulk of our employment, so when they’re not getting the money they need, our economy moves at a crawl.
To fix this, Republican Sam Graves (he chairs the House Small Business Committee) came up with a plan to help banks make loans to small businesses. The Graves plan is simple: give money to banks at almost no cost to the banks. But wait! That means banks can take these new low-cost loans and use the money to pay off their Troubled Asset Relief Program debt!
The Boston Globe reported that a Boston bank “has applied for more than $4 million in funding from the new program to replace the $3.5 million it received through TARP. The bank said it expects the funds to cost just 1 percent a year under the new small business lending program, compared to the 5 percent it pays now (and 9 percent in 2014) under TARP.” Now that’s banking! And that Boston bank is not alone in knowing a good thing when they see it. The Treasury Department said has received 847 applications, including 315 from banks still holding TARP money. Oh, mercy!