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A Response to Reader George Jetson

On another thread, you asked the question, Is there a published analysis of the net cost to taxpayers of the TARP plan? Here’s a preliminary draft of one.

This comes from two economists at the University of Chicago, and they find a likely net cost (representing a transfer of value from taxpayers to stakeholders of banks) in the range of a few tens of billions of dollars.

They perform an event analysis of the two market days surrounding Paulson’s forced purchase of preferred shares in nine or ten banks (depending on how you count Wachovia) on October 13.

I like their novel use of liquid market prices for credit-default swaps as a proxy for bond values in calculating the “enterprise value” of the affected banks.

But I’m a capital-markets kind of guy, and I’m not as convinced that they can filter enough noise out of two days worth of data at an exceptionally volatile time to support the conclusion. But again, it’s a preliminary draft of the paper, and of course they’re asking the right questions.

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