Accountability is key, especially when Uncle Sam plows his way into private enterprise. And while the Treasury has provided tools like -- a website designed to keep us informed of all bailout happenings -- staying up to speed is a disaster if you're not fluent in bailoutonomics. Which, to be fair, no one really is.

Besides, most people just want to know: Is any of this working?

Nasdaq OMX Group is trying to make answering that question a little easier for average Joes. It created an index that tracks every U.S.-listed institution that has received more than $1 billion in bailout funds, called the Government Relief Index, listed under ticker QGRI. The index follows common stock prices, while the government has primarily taken preferred stock investments, but it still gives us a broad indication of whether a sense of confidence is returning to the banking world.

How have things been working out? So far, not so good.  The index has plunged about 25% since launching on Jan. 5, vs. roughly a 7% loss for the S&P 500 index.

Breaking apart some of the largest components, here's how common shares have performed since TARP was announced on Sept. 19 of last year:


Performance Since Sept. 19, 2008

Bank of America (NYSE:BAC)


Citigroup (NYSE:C)


JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM)


Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS)


Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC)


Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS)




Again, the common stock price isn't an indication of how Uncle Sam's preferred stock investments are doing. That, however, might change. Just like Citigroup did earlier this year, converting preferred stock to common stock seems to be gaining popularity as a tool to shore up banks' balance sheets. The New York Times reports that the Obama administration is interested in converting preferred shares into common equity in an attempt to right the financial system without asking Congress for additional money.

So keep an eye on the Government Relief Index. Whether you know it or not, you might end up owning a chunk of it through our pals in Washington.

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Fool contributor Morgan Housel doesn’t own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article. The Fool owns shares of Nasdaq OMX. The Fool has a disclosure policy.