The Treasury Department on Tuesday released the first monthly bank lending survey, which showed that 20 major financial institutions that received TARP funds had fallen in mortgage origination across the board in December since the TARP began distributing bailout funds through the Capital Purchase Program in October. Many of the institutions reported increases in originations in the month-over-month period from November to December, "fueled by falling mortgage interest rates," according to the Treasury. However, those gains in origination were erased by the initial declines in origination activity reported by many of the institutions in the October-to-November period. The Treasury media statement announcing the survey downplayed the weaker originations since TARP began by pointing out that unemployment rose to 7.2 percent from 6.5 percent and 1.5 million jobs were shed as real GDP fell 3.8 percent during that same time period. "Despite the negative effects of the economic downturn and unprecedented financial markets crisis, the first survey of the top 20 recipients of government investment through the Capital Purchase Program (CPP) found that banks continued to originate, refinance and renew loans from the beginning of the program in October through December 2008," Treasury officials said in the statement. But a look into the figures reported by some of the top banks illustrates just how much origination has fallen since TARP began. For Bank of New York Mellon Corp. (BK), total first mortgage originations decreased to $69 million in December from $89 million in October, with refinance loans having decreased to $25 million from $37 million and new home purchases having decreased to $44 million from $52 million. For BB&T Corp. (BBT), the story was much the same, but on a larger scale: Total first mortgage originations decreased to $1.25 billion from $1.43 billion in October. Refis decreased to $666 million from $672 million and new home purchases decreased to $582 million from $754 million in October. Citigroup Inc.'s (C) total first mortgage origination dropped to $5.55 billion from $6.94 billion in October; refi mortgages fell to $858 million from $1.7 billion while new home purchases fell to $489 million from $1.14 billion in October. JP Morgan Chase & Co. (JPM) reported total first mortgage originations dropped to $8.6 billion from $10.74 billion in October, with refi volume dropping to $4.3 billion from $5.35 billion and new home purchases falling to $4.26 billion from $5.39 billion in October. SunTrust Banks Inc. (STI) showed total first mortgage originations dropped slightly to $2.63 billion from $2.7 billion in October, while refi volume actually increased to $1.27 billion from $1.1 billion and new home mortgages falling to $1.36 billion from $1.6 billion during the same time frame. Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC) also reported substantially weaker first mortgage originations at $15.32 billion from $19.01 billion in October. Write to Diana Golobay at diana.golobay@housingwire.com. Disclosure: The author held no relevant investment positions when this story was published. Indirect holdings may exist via mutual fund investments. HW reporters and writers follow a strict disclosure policy, the first in the mortgage trade.