NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said Tuesday he expects a wave of banks to soon return government bailout money to taxpayers.
"It will depend on the institution, but for major banks in the country I think that money will come back relatively quickly," he said.
Speaking before the annual meeting of Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association in New York, Geithner offered few details on when those repayments could happen and from which companies.
Lenders that received taxpayer aid under the Treasury's Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, have already returned nearly $71 billion to taxpayers, helped by renewed interest by private investors in the banking industry.
Still, some $134 billion remains invested in hundreds of community and regional banks as well big bailout recipients like Citigroup and Bank of America.
Both companies have been anxious to get out from under the government's thumb, given the level of scrutiny on such issues as how they compensate their employees.
As two firms that were recipients of "exceptional" government assistance, they were required to submit compensation packages for their top 100 most-highly compensated employees to the White House "pay czar."
Geithner's comments Tuesday were tempered, however, by his expectations for automakers General Motors and Chrysler, both of whom double dipped on bailout money.
Even as both firms are putting massive restructuring plans into actions, the Treasury chief warned that it could take some time before either company returns taxpayers funds, especially if nationwide auto sales continue to remain weak.
"It will take time to get out of those companies," he said.
I'm sure they will give it away again as soon as they get it back. spread the wealth and all that.
So where are all these toxic assets the TARP was supposed to buy?
Treasury Secretary Geithner, I have some alligator infested swamp land in Louisiana I would like to sell you. This transaction will get done quicker than you'll see the banks paying taxpayers money back.
Banks are going to start returning bailout money?
Wait a minute! All the right-wing Obama haters, who for months have been slamming our President for "spending, spending, spending) and "bankrupting the country" (like GW didn't), are not going to want to hear THIS.
If the banks pay back the money, what are all of these poor Obama-haters going to do? They will have one less reason they can use to complain about an African American being President.
On the other hand, they COULD treat this news like they do climate change/global warming; deny the hard facts and just claim that it's all a hoax.
Would Bush or McCain accomplish this while in power, I think not. Just cleaning up the mess of another Republican. Thanks Democrats.
Well at least some is being paid back but I guess we aren't going to hear a lot about that.
I'm just happy that we are seeing some money come back. Bush never worried about that, did he? For all the Republicans carping about government handouts, why do they never mention that the money is being repaid? Oh, they don't want us to KNOW. Or maybe it's that it really isn't being repaid, because that doesn't fit into their Obama is the Devil agenda.
I can hardly wait until the jobs come back to hear their reasoning on why Obama will have had nothing to do with that, either.
I know this is important stuff we are dealing with but can somebody tell me what is happening with the unemployment extension that so many people need to help this economy get better? I have lost my benefits for the past month, have a two year old and have nothing monetarily. Isn't that a major concern?