When word leaked out last week that the US Treasury Department was considering selling the preferred stock it held in over 350 banks as a result of its TARP capital injections, I think the remaining TARP banks had a mixed reaction. On one hand, there's always the advantage of dealing with the devil you know as opposed to the devil you don't. It's theoretically possible that Treasury might sell the whole kit and kaboodle to Gordon Gekko, who might downsize some his acquired banks with extreme prejudice.
On the other hand, there's always the disadvantage of continuing to deal with a federal bureaucracy that is motivated by factors that focus less on the bottom line than on meauring the political wind's speed and direction. Ask a TARP bank that's tried to negotiate a "haircut" on repayment of TARP stock in connection with a merger or acquisition transaction how political considerations (i.e., how Treasury can insulate itself from being criticized during the period starting now and ending with The Rapture) trump common business sense. If you have a savvy private equity investor owning your stock, you might ultimately be screwed, but at least you'll have a chance of understanding why.
Opponents of the original TARP will never admit that they might have been wrong about the need for the program to save the economy from ruin. The fact that the Treasury has already made a profit on its original TARP investments ($20 billion so far, according to the linked article) is meaningless to them. I guess they wanted to let the "creative destructive" forces of a "pure market system" work their magic on all of us, and if we ended in standing in bread lines, they'd say that was a hard lesson learned and that we're all the better for it. I don't have the energy to tell them that not only is God dead, but so is Ayn Rand.
So, if I take pot shots from the peanut gallery at the administrators of TARP, I still think that it was a good idea, albeit one that could have been executed a heck of a lot better than it was.