Five Ways That TARP Succeeded

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1. Economic antifreeze

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In propping up major financial institutions, TARP provided relief from the immediate problem of frozen credit markets, according to James Gattuso, a senior fellow in regulatory policy at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank: "It served a critical function in terms of providing liquidity at a time that it was needed to counter a panic in financial markets," he says. Doug Elliott, a fellow at the liberal Brookings Institution, believes that without government support of financial institutions, the financial crisis would have taken on far greater proportions. "The recession we had would have been substantially worse; millions of people would have been out of work," he says.

Next: 2. A government program that costs less than advertised

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