Dean Baker takes serious issue with the claim that the Government has made a profit on its Citigroup investment. Emphasis mine:
"The Washington Post (aka Fox on 15th Street) once again proclaimed TARP a success. The cause for the latest revelry is the fact that the government appears to be in a position to make an $8 billion gain on the stock it holds in Citigroup. Before we join the Post in breaking out the champagne, it's worth taking a bit closer look at our investments in Citigroup...."
"In effect, the government's profit is entirely due to the value of the government's guarantee. In Washington Post land, the government could make money by buying shares of a company's stock, offering to guarantee the company's debt, and then selling our shares at a gain when the market recognizes the value of the government's guarantee. Of course this strategy provides much larger gains to the other shareholders and allows the top executives to score billions in bonuses for being such shrewd managers, but in Washington Post land they don't pay attention to such things."
I love the way Baker put it: "The government's profit is entirely due to the value of the government's guarantee." PONZIIIIII!
Baker's full rant is worth a read, where he attempts to quantify the value of all the Ponzi-rific subsidies that Citigroup has benefited from.
disclosure: I am actually long an odd lot of C, but short XLF, which almost certainly leaves me net short C.