Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Treasury's Bailout Overseer Quits

Treasury Department assistant secretary Herb Allison, who oversaw the bank bailout fund, stepped down this morning. He reportedly decided to step down because the program was nearing an official end. According to

    Allison had been in charge of the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program that is scheduled to expire in two weeks.

    "With the TARP program entering a new phase and continuing to wind down, I have decided that now it is the right time for me to step down," Allison said in an e-mail to staff members that the Treasury made available.

    He said he was returning to Connecticut after two years' service in Washington to spend time with his wife, who had been unable to join him during that time. The chief counsel for the financial stability office, Tim Massad, will take over as acting secretary on September 30.

    Though TARP is officially ending on October 3, after which it cannot make any new investments in financial institutions, its work in recouping the money that it did lend will continue for years.

    Allison is one in a line of officials preparing to take their leave from Washington, many of them more senior, including Larry Summers, director of the White House's national Economic Council; Council of Economic Advisers Chair Christina Romer and White House budget chief Peter Orszag.

    Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, in a town-hall style event with Treasury staff, lavished praise on Allison and cast TARP as a highly effective mechanism despite the fact that it was "a four-letter word" for lawmakers and most Americans who saw it as a handout for bankers.

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