By Zachary Ehrlich  Sat Mar 3, 2012

Bank Bailouts Drag On and On and On

striatic / Flickr source

A number of banks still have most, if not all, of the money they received from the government under TARP. While many big banks have repaid the government, some of the community banks that were bailed out are asking for extra help. And they are getting it.

Even though we have reached a post-bailout, post-TARP era, we are possibly entering a new period of government relief. In some cases, we are even bailing out the previously bailed-out.

Some big banks are not out of the woods

On a grand scale, Ally Financial Inc is deeply in debt to the government, and 73.8 percent of the company is indeed government owned. Ally will likely have to sell off some units to pay back its debt. Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase and CIT Group have the best chance at acquiring much of Ally’s services, including their mortgage unit, Residential Capital, and their auto loans operations.

With an IPO almost out of the question, these potential sales are crucial for Ally to get out of debt. As the former auto-finance arm for General Motors, Ally received multiple financial injections adding up to more than $17 billion but it has only paid back $5.4 billion.

Worth around $68.3 billion in an acquisition, the auto-lending unit could boost Ally’s earnings in 2012 by 7 percent according to an article by the Wall Street Journal. Surely such a large global institution remains under the public eye until it settles its debts to the taxpayers that bailed it out.

Small banks not feeling the same pinch

However, what about the 372 banks that, as of last month, still owed $16.8 billion in TARP funds? How much longer do these banks have to repay their loans?

Apparently as much time as they want, says a letter from the Treasury picked up by FOX Business. The letter states that the “Treasury can’t require banks to repay” the money they received under TARP.

These banks may not receive any more checks from the government, but they are perpetually being bailed out. In fact, of the 372 banks that had not paid back their TARP loans, roughly half weren’t even making their interest payments.

Ask for help

Consumers, who have suffered plenty themselves in recent years, seem not to get the same sort of understanding from their creditors. In fact, just the idea of asking a creditor to lower a rate or restructure a debt is something that many consumers find unsettling.

But this is not the time for shame.

When you feel your rates are too high or if you cannot pay all your bills on time, pick up the phone and ask for assistance.

If it helps, remember that it’s likely your creditors have made a similar call, albeit to a Congressman or regulator, themselves.

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