Rolling up the TARP

WASHINGTON (AP) - The federal bank bailout program is now officially history. As of today, Uncle Sam loses the ability to tap the bailout fund, formally known as the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP. Though most economists think it helped avert a second Depression, the $700 billion program was as despised as any in U.S. history.

But it turns out Uncle Sam will get back most of the $700 billion. Bank shares turned out to be better-than-expected investments. Auto companies are back on their feet. And even insurance giant AIG is being sold off at what could end up being a profit.

Losses are now reckoned around $66 billion, and could end up being even less. But polls say most Americans see TARP as a massive lifeline to the very Wall Street wizards who brought on disaster -- and hugely unfair to the folks on Main Street still paying for it.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)