As the government's authority in the banking industry continues to grow, the hottest debate is over how banks are spending federal funds.
But even more fundamental is the issue of which banks will receive Uncle Sam's money.
More than 500 banks in 48 states have received government capital from the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, and the U.S. Treasury continues to announce more TARP recipients. The deadline to apply for the money has expired, but regulators are still working through “thousands” of applications from every state.
It's not clear how many additional banks will receive TARP money. When the government announced the program in October, it said only that it would process applications “as expeditiously as possible.”
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The government has committed at least $565 billion in TARP money to banks, automakers and failed insurer AIG, as of this week.
Of that, $140 billion has gone to the nation's four mega-banks:
Citigroup Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co., which account for half of the New York City total.
Charlotte's Bank of America Corp..
Wells Fargo & Co., the new owner of Charlotte's Wachovia and the recipient of just about all of San Francisco's bailout funds.
After those top-three U.S. banking centers, other major players include Minneapolis (home of U.S. Bancorp), Cincinnati (Fifth Third Bancorp), Cleveland (KeyCorp) and Pittsburgh (PNC Financial Services Group Inc.). Christina Rexrode