Treasury Dep’t: No PPIP Applicants for You

The Treasury Department yesterday named nine managers for the PPIP, which is designed to help banks escape the toxic messes of their own making. It also said “over 100 unique applications… were received.”

It almost sounds like PPIP was so popular that Treasury had to beat off hopeful participants with a stick. To know for sure, though, it would be helpful to have a list of the rejected applicants. After all, what if most of them were crackpot lounge singers who don’t know CDS from CPR?

Unfortunately, Treasury is refusing to give out the list. A Department spokesman simply said “no,” when I asked earlier this morning, without providing an official reason. We could speculate that Treasury doesn’t want to cause reputational damage to the losers, but the government hasn’t objected to identifying losing bidders for failed banks. So that couldn’t/shouldn’t be it.

Maybe Treasury is worried that if the program fails, critics might suggest that some of the losing bidders would have done a better job than the winning bidders. For example, what if some actual private equity firms were among the denied? After all, it is a bit odd to not see at least one traditional PE firm on there (Carlyle, Blackstone, JC Flowers, etc.).

Or maybe, just maybe, PPIP wasn’t quite as popular as Treasury would like us to believe. Maybe the private equity asset class decided not to be white knights (sacrificial lambs). After all, if PIMCO bailed, why not Carlyle?

In the end, though, this is a public program and taxpayers have the right to know both the winners and the losers. A pretty website doesn’t make up for a lack of transparency.