I don’t know who is right, Paulson or Kovacevich, but I do know this; if Tarp was undertaken to save the currency, it was the right thing to do. If it was undertaken to save a few banks it was the wrong thing to do. Let’s face it, our money has no backing other than people’s willingness to accept it as payment. You can’t exchange it for anything. If you introduce a risk premium for every dollar transaction you reduce its value accordingly and that would have been a spiraling disaster. But a few banks and their stock go under, well, that life in capital(ism) city. I know it was the government that coerced them into making bad loans, but I didn’t see them objecting once they found a way to make some money and shift the risk.
It wasn't undertaken to save the currency. It was passed by economic ignoramuses who believe that the finance industry is the underpinning of the American economy. It isn't. Americans who make things drive the economy.
The financial sector has grown so big only because the Fed has been debasing the dollar for fifty some years now. When a currency is constantly being cheapened then economic activity turns from producing goods to betting on money.
The banks in trouble should have been allowed to go under. We'd be out of this mess by now if they had. We did just what the Japanese did in the early nineties -- and we all know how well that worked out.