What Is the Congressional Oversight Panel (COP)?

What Is the Congressional Oversight Panel (COP)?

3 Min.

The $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Programme (TARP) is being carried out under the supervision of the Congressional Oversight Panel established by Congress. A panel had the authority to review the Treasury department's actions toward stabilizing the economy during the Financial Crisis of 2007-2008. According to the panel's final report, TARP had a negative impact on the markets as it reinforced the idea that big financial institutions were immune to failure.


Monitoring the implementation of the $700 billion Trouble Asset Relief Program during the 2007-2008 Financial Crisis, the Congressional Oversight Panel emerged in 2008 as a crucial oversight entity. Tasked by Congress, COP held hearings, scrutinized data, and generated comprehensive reports concerning the actions taken by the U.S. Treasury and financial institutions in their endeavors to stabilize the economy.

Congressional Oversight Panel (COP) and its Role in Financial Crisis Response

Amidst the financial crisis, Congress intervened, granting the Treasury authority to utilize $700 billion through the Trouble Asset Relief Program (TARP) to stabilize the economy. The Office of Stabilization was established within the Treasury department to execute TARP's implementation, alongside the formation of the Congressional Oversight Panel responsible for monitoring these endeavors.

COP's responsibilities encompassed overseeing the Treasury's actions, evaluating the economic stabilization impact of expenditures, assessing market transparency, ensuring the effectiveness of foreclosure mitigation efforts, and verifying the Treasury's alignment with public interests.

Notably, COP was not the sole oversight entity scrutinizing TARP expenditure; it operated alongside the Special Inspector General for TARP and the Government Accountability Office in this crucial monitoring process.

Panel's Final Report: Unveiling the Impact of TARP and Concerns Over Market Distortions

On April 3, 2011, the panel's operations ceased, as stipulated by statute. Their last report, dated March 16, 2011, delved into the government's initiatives to recover from the financial crisis and restore order and liquidity to credit and debt markets.

Initially conceived as a $700 billion program aimed at enhancing the liquidity of secondary mortgage markets by acquiring illiquid mortgage-backed securities, TARP underwent modifications, permitting the government to purchase equity stakes in banks and other financial institutions.

During TARP's creation, then-chair of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, warned of a potential catastrophe comparable to or exceeding the Great Depression. TARP proved instrumental in stabilizing markets during turbulent times. However, the report revealed concerns over its impact, particularly reinforcing the notion that large financial institutions were "too big to fail," creating moral hazard.

The report highlighted the lack of transparency when the Treasury disbursed billions to these institutions without requiring them to disclose the use of the funds, leaving the public uninformed about the ultimate purpose of their money. Such opaqueness raised significant concerns.

Ultimately, while TARP served as a critical backstop, the report urged caution, emphasizing the need to address the potential consequences of market distortions and moral hazards to prevent future crises and bailouts.


The Congressional Oversight Panel monitored the $700 billion TARP implementation during the 2007-2008 Financial Crisis. Their final report raised concerns about TARP's impact, reinforcing the idea of "too big to fail" institutions and the need for transparency and caution to prevent future crises.

Congressional Oversight Panel (COP)
Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP)
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