Goldman Sachs today announced strong first quarter earnings and its intention to raise $5Bn so that it can start to pay off its TARP funding. You have to wonder if the motivation to get out of TARP, is executive pay. Banking conditions haven’t really improved much in the last month or two and almost all the banks have taken TARP money, so why the rush to pay back the government? It isn’t as if banks with TARP money are considered inferior. The only conclusion I can draw is that Goldman Sachs execs hate to see the bank making such huge profits (they just made $1.8 Billion dollars in the last quarter) and not being able to pay out huge bonuses to themselves (I wonder how much profit they would have made if they’d been allowed to pay bonuses and salaries as they did before TARP?). Goldman will need approval from the regulators to pay back its TARP money. Hopefully the first real question they ask is: “Why do you want to pay it back so soon?” I also hope they listen really carefully to the answer. It would be a tragedy if Goldman Sachs paid back its TARP funding and then simply carried on as if nothing had happened. It would be an even bigger tragedy if that then resulted in them getting right back to where they were before the TARP funding.