Feds end auto bailout

The Obama administration is ending its controversial auto-industry bailout, which saved more than a million jobs but cost taxpayers billions of dollars in losses.

The Treasury Department announced Friday morning it is selling the federal government’s remaining shares in Ally Financial Inc., an auto lender, exiting its intervention in the industry.

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“The auto industry financing program helped save the auto industry, more than one million jobs, and prevent a second Great Depression,” Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew said in a statement, touting the administration's efforts.

"There is more work to do, but as we exit the last major financial investment, it’s important to take stock of the progress we have made, and the critical role TARP [the Troubled Asset Relief Program] and the auto industry financing program played in getting us to this point,” he added.

The Treasury sold its 11 percent stake in Ally Financial for $1.3 billion, recovering more money than it invested in the Detroit-based auto lender formerly known as GMAC. In total, the government recovered $19.6 billion from Ally.

But such earnings were not the case for much of the $85 billion auto bailout, which began under the Bush administration and was greatly expanded during the Obama administration. 

The U.S. government also propped up auto companies including General Motors and Chrysler. In total, the feds lost about $10 billion on the auto bailout, according to reports.

The Treasury lost more than $10 billion when it sold its remaining shares in General Motors last December. The government also lost about $1.3 billion when it sold Chrysler in 2011.

That contrasts with the approximately $2.4 billion that it made selling its full stake in Ally.

The auto bailout was part of the Troubled Asset Relief Program, better known as TARP, which spent more than $400 billion bailing out a number of companies from a wide range of industries after the financial crisis.