Even at this late date, it is difficult to assess the precise international impact of the TARP or other U.S. rescue programs because Treasury gathered very little data on how TARP funds flowed overseas. As a result, neither students of the current crisis nor those dealing with future rescue efforts will have access to much of the information that would help them make wellinformed decisions. In the interests of transparency and completeness, and to help inform regulators‟ actions in a world that is likely to become ever more financially integrated, the Panel strongly urges Treasury to start now to report more data about how TARP and other rescue funds flowed internationally and to document the impact that the U.S. rescue had overseas. Going forward, Treasury should create and maintain a database of this information and should urge foreign regulators and multinational organizations to collect and report similar data. The crisis also underscored the fact that the international community‟s formal mechanisms to resolve potential financial crises are very limited. Even though the TARP legislation required Treasury to coordinate its programs with similar efforts by foreign governments, the global response to the financial crisis unfolded on an ad hoc, informal, countryby-country basis. Each individual government made its own decisions based on its evaluation of what was best for its own banking sector and for its own domestic economy. Even on the occasions when several governments worked together to rescue specific ailing institutions, as in the rescues of European banks Dexia and Fortis, national interests often came to the fore. These ad hoc actions ultimately restored a measure of stability to the international system, but they underscored the fact that the internationalization of the financial system has outpaced the ability of national regulators to respond to global crises.
By itself, the Troubled Asset Relief Program (“TARP”) is a huge program at $700 billion. As discussed in SIGTARP’s April Quarterly Report, the total financial exposure of TARP and TARP-related programs may reach approximately $3 trillion. Although large in its own right, TARP is only a part of the combined efforts of the Federal Government to address the financial crisis.