The financial acronym TARP stands for Troubled Asset Relief Program, a United States government program begun in 2008. TARP was intended to help alleviate and address the sub-prime mortgage crisis.
For example, the TARP was begun to allow the U.S. Treasury to buy illiquid assets such as mortgage-backed securities from banks and other financial institutions. The idea behind this program was that it would have a stabilizing effect on the balance sheets for companies participating in the program. The TARP program was also used to bail out the too big to fail U.S. companies like General Motors, Citigroup and AIG Insurance that were then in serious financial trouble. The program has cost U.S. taxpayers nearly $89 billion, down from an estimated $356 billion, because of the fact that many of the loans were since repaid. General Motors, for example, has paid virtually its entire TARP loan back, and of the $245 billion lent to United States banks, nearly $169 billion has now also been repaid.