Almost a year to the day after the Treasury dumped tens of billions into banks, the heart of the $700 billion bank bailout called TARP is coming to an end. Rest its soul.

TARP was broken up into several programs, but the main one -- the segment that injected money directly into banks -- will be euthanized by the end of the year, with no more new money heading out the door. Another program, an original $100 billion allocation to buy troubled loans from banks, is now being capped at $60 billion.

This looks good at first glance, but it really isn't terribly meaningful. Most banks that needed cash already got what they wanted. It's like cutting off food stamps after you win the lottery. Big whoop.

What it does do, though, is gives us a better understanding of TARP's final outlays. Using data from the bailout's official website,, here's roughly where we stand:



Money still held by banks  

$178.9 billion

Homeowners (mortgage modifications)

$27.3 billion


$69.8 billion

Auto industry

$81.3 billion

TALF (Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility)

$20 billion

PPIP (Public-Private Investment Program)

$16.7 billion

Already repaid

$72.8 billion

Uncommitted/not spent  

$233.2 billion


$700 billion

Not bad, all things considered. Of the $179 billion still held by banks, Bank of America (NYSE:BAC), Citigroup (NYSE:C), and Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) combined hold roughly $120 billion. Most of Citigroup's investment is now in common stock, so its value fluctuates wildly. The rest is spread out over hundreds of tiny banks, some in dollops as small as a few hundred thousand bucks. Most big banks, including Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS), JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM), Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS), and American Express (NYSE:AXP), have already repaid the funds in full.

The two biggest bloodsuckers are AIG (NYSE:AIG) and the auto industry.

AIG still looks a lot like Amy Winehouse, but I'll admit, it's getting better. A few weeks ago, the insurer was able to sell its Taiwanese life insurance subsidiary for $2.2 billion, which was nearly double the expected bid amount, and more than AIG itself had hoped to get. String together a few more of those, and the prospect of repaying taxpayers could look good. (Although that's not saying AIG shares are a buy. It's very possible, if not probable, that AIG could repay most of what it owes taxpayers and still wipe out common shareholders.)

No one really knows the state of the auto industry. Both General Motors and Chrysler aren't yet public companies, so information on their well-being is scarce. Even if it was available, you probably wouldn't want to see it. What we can safely surmise is that a substantial chunk invested is a lost cause that will never be recovered. In fact, at least $7 billion lent to Chrysler has already been downright forgiven. Same goes, in fact, for the homeowner mortgage modifications: There isn't even an attempt to recover outlaid capital. It's a one-way ticket of money out the door.

What's TARP's final tab going to be? The Congressional Budget Office estimates the final bill will be $159 billion. I don't necessarily disagree, but such a figure is based on thousands of assumptions that could turn out wildly off -- in either direction. The truth is, no one knows. The financial industry is much better off today than it was a year ago, but that could change in an instant. The auto industry might stay glued to its old ways of burning cash to make it through cold Detroit winters. AIG might find happy buyers and repay taxpayers in full, plus interest. No one knows. All we know is that the final tab will be substantially less than the $700 billion headline number that got so many riled up last year. That's a small victory, but a victory nonetheless.

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Fool contributor Morgan Housel doesn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article. American Express is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. The Fool has a disclosure policy.