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Bill Radke: There's some welcome news for the U.S. taxpayer this morning. Reports indicate the government's big financial bailout program actually might not be nearly as costly as we thought. We get more from Marketplace's Ashley Milne-Tyte, who joins us live also, and also from New York. Good morning.

Ashley Milne-Tyte: Hi, Bill!

Radke: So why the smaller bailout price tag?

Milne-Tyte: Well basically, the banks have a lot to do with it. They're repaying government funds a lot faster than anyone expected. Big financial institutions like JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs they've all repaid their bailout funds. Bank of America just announced it's planning to do the same thing. So that just leaves Citibank waiting in the wings. And so Treasury lent $370 billion in bailout money to companies that hit trouble during the initial financial crisis, and reports say it now expects to get back most of that -- all but $42 billion of that.

Radke: So is that to say that our big banks are on the mend?

Milne-Tyte: Well not everyone thinks so. I spoke to Christopher Whalen of Institutional Risk Analytics a bit earlier and asked him if this was good news.

Christopher Whalen: Well no, it's mostly public relations' spin by the White House and the Treasury. You have to remember that the Fed has manipulated the securities market to such an extent that the banks look pretty good.

He says the Fed's effectively been subsidising the banks -- I mean, there've been very low interest rates, the Fed's bought a lot of those problematic mortgage-backed securities so the banks don't have to write down losses on those. So he says when the Fed starts unwinding some of the policies it's using now, we could be looking at a very sobering picture.

Radke: So as for those paid-back funds, how's the government planning to use that money?

Milne-Tyte: Well, there's talk of them using some of those funds to pay for a jobs program, and we could hear more about that in a speech the president's making tomorrow.

Radke: Marketplace's Ashley Milne-Tyte. Thank you.

Milne-Tyte: You're welcome.

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