Capitol building from street view

The Congressional Oversight Panel charged with overseeing America's $700 billion federal bailout fund admits that it still isn't sure if the measure will save the auto industry in the long run, The Detroit News is reporting. As you'll recall, the $700 billion was divvied up between banks, insurers and General Motors and Chrysler, among others.

According to the panel, the Treasury had no specific goals for the $85 billion it gave automakers, so it will be hard to gauge the success of the loan in the long term. For now, it would seem that the bailout worked, with GM and Chrysler both posting their first profits in years in 2010.

Last year, GM cleared a $6.2 billion profit – its first year in the black since 2004. Chrysler also managed a profit, and Ford, who didn't take any money from the government, ratcheted a $6.6 billion profit.

As part of its final 236-page report, the oversight panel also reduced its estimate of how much money the bailout would cost taxpayers, from $40 billion to $17 billion.

[Source: The Detroit News | Image: Mark Wilson/Getty]