The Fed and Bonuses

The WSJ has a detailed chronology of when the Fed started looking at AIG’s bonuses. I think it, at times, confuses the AIGFP bonuses that were negotiated in March 2008 with the bonuses that were negotiated after AIG got bailed out (AIG gave retention bonuses to a group of employees that has expanded from 130 to 4700 since September–which I’ll return to in a later post). And it makes an even larger error, misrepresenting the main reason AIG kept the AIGFP bonuses, which was that they really felt they needed those employees to stick around (the WSJ focuses only on the legal question, which Edward Liddy has made clear was secondary to the perceived need to keep these people around).

But the WSJ story makes one thing clear: the Fed deliberately avoided discussing bonuses in the context of new bailout negotiations.

In late January, news outlets reported that AIG planned a total of $450 million in bonuses to help retain employees winding down the complex trades in the unit at the heart of the company’s collapse. In the weeks that followed, Mr. Liddy and other AIG officials briefed some lawmakers about the retention payments and other aspects of the AIG rescue.

On Feb. 28, as government officials worked on a fourth AIG bailout, the New York Federal Reserve Bank emailed Stephen Albrecht, a Treasury lawyer, laying out the AIG bonus issues and promising further detail, according to two people familiar with the email. Mr. Albrecht did not return a call seeking comment.

It was an intense weekend, as Treasury and Fed officials frantically prepared to close the AIG deal. "When we heard there was this executive compensation thing floating out there, we thought, ‘We’ll deal with this later,’" said one Treasury official.

On March 2, AIG announced both record losses and $30 billion in fresh Treasury aid.

This is appalling not just because the Fed and Treasury put off dealing with the question of bonuses at the same time as they were forcing the UAW to renegotiate its contract as a condition of new aid.

But it also seems to strongly suggest that neither the Fed nor Treasury have ever really questioned AIG’s representation that it needs to keep these finance guys around by bribing them. We learned on Friday that the guy receiving the biggest bonuses–Doug Poling–was the lawyer who crafted the CDS contracts. Don’t you think we ought to determine whether we ought to keep that guy around?

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63 replies
  1. JimWhite says:

    I think it’s very important for someone to identify all of those receiving these “retention” bonuses and to check their backgrounds. I hope that is Cuomo’s goal in getting the list of names. I’ve seen several suggestions here in the threads that there just might be significant overlap with Enron alumni. In addition to checking against Enron rosters, however, I’d like to see how many of these yahoos have been involved in other scams as well. I’m betting that London office was like an All-Star team of financial con artists. I’ll be shocked if they don’t have histories of taking the money and running under conditions where they couldn’t quite get prosecuted…

    • Gitcheegumee says:

      Doug Poling,who received the most generous largesse,is the son of a Ford executive.[It is said he has returned the $$.]

      It may be just coincidence, but Liddy,[AIG CEO who was on the board of Goldman Sachs,when tapped by Paulson for AIG and had to resign],had been a Ford executive himself,before going over to Allstate.

      Prior to that Liddy had been at Searle during ,Rumsfeld’s tenure there.

  2. LabDancer says:

    “Don’t you think we ought to determine whether we ought to keep [Poling] around?”

    Around what? The House, as in a committee deposition room? The Big House, as in a grand jury hearing room?

  3. Leen says:

    I keep hearing that program of Bill Moyers quite a while back where he reported that former Secretary of the Treasury Hank Paulson had said that the efforts to block executive compensation would not “hold water”

  4. Leen says:

    ew/all
    The Diane Rehm show focused on this issue this morning
    10 est
    http://wamu.org/programs/dr/

    10:00CEO pay and the Economic Recovery Effort

    Reactions to steps taken by Congress and the administration to limit bonuses for thousands of executives… A look at the plan and why some say the move may undermine the Obama administration’s overall economic recovery effort
    Guests

    David Leonhardt, reporter, New York Times

    Kevin Hassett, director of economic policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute

    Sarah Anderson, Institute for Policy Studies
    http://www.wamu.org/programs/dr/09/03/23.php#24973
    Listen to this segment

    Show archives will be available approximately one hour after the program ends.
    Pre-order a copy

    CD |
    Transcript
    Related Links

    * Informed Comment

    Related Items

    * Engaging the Muslim World
    Engaging the Muslim World

    Share this
    11:00Juan Cole: “Engaging the Muslim World” (Palgrave Macmillan)

    In a video message to the Iranian people and government, President Obama said the U.S. seeks engagement based on mutual respect. Historian and blogger Juan Cole discusses what that might achieve and why he’s pushing for a broader campaign to engage the Muslim world.
    Guests

    Juan Cole, professor of modern Middle East history at the University of Michigan; his blog is “Informed Comment”

    Damn Diane is stirring it up this morning. Bonuses and Juan Cole this morning.

    Call in 800- 433-8850 or e mail your questions [email protected]

  5. JohnnyTable70 says:

    The entire faux outrage over the bonuses seems like another classic GOP misdirection. By focusing on the minutiae , we are avoiding the larger issue. IMO the best way to end the talk about the bonuses, is to expose the concept behind awarding bonuses in lieu of salary in the first place: it cheats the Treasury out of millions of dollars by taxing the bonuses at a significantly lower rate than had the same amount been added to someone’s salary.

    Let’s change the IRS regulations and tax laws to reflect reality. Perhaps the amount that bonuses are taxed at the lower rate should be capped at something reasonable like say $10K or $20K. In effect these bonuses are stiffing both the shareholders and the taxpayers. In the case of AIG, we are one in the same, but if we want to actually change the system, we need concrete realistic changes rather than misdirected outrage over AIG bonuses.

    Considering how AIG simultaneously announced that it was seeking the refund of $300 million in taxes from the IRS, you see what I am talking about when I say misdirection.

    • BoxTurtle says:

      The more I see of it, the more I agree that the bonus’ are bright, shiny objects. We’re fixating on less then 1% of the bailout.

      I think what they’re trying to hide is that most of the bailout went to big banks to shore up their balance sheets or to buy underprices assets from other troubled firms.

      The big winner seems to be Goldman.

      Boxturtle (Remember, the job of the assistant is to keep you from noticing what the magician is doing)

      • Praedor says:

        No, it is useful. The outrage over the greed is merely a first step. This can be used to change the tax system so they cannot get around taxes, AND it can be used to put a halt to more bailouts without SIGNIFICANT movement on Obama’s part to make the entire shitpile transparent – transparent as to who is getting what and where, exactly, that money is going.

        This is good.

      • chrisc says:

        Agree that the bonuses may be small potatoes compared to what else is going on in the bailout, but I don’t think it is a shiny object or distraction. The bailout, if it is successful will “fix the banks” and get lending going again. But that doesn’t “fix” the whole system. It just gets the old, broken system started again.

        I’m not an economist, and have no special expertise in that area, save for playing Monopoly. So I could be wrong. But I’d say that too many folks have landed on Park Place and Broadway at a time when they were covered with a shitload of hotels. It is game over unless the winners are bored and give a fistfull of money to the other players.

        To “fix” the system, folks have to have enough assets to play. That means more job creation. And health care so that all the assets are not eaten up by a catastrophic event. There has to be enough assets to keep the game going for more than another round or two. So, yeah, I am talking redistribution of wealth. The gap between the rich and the poor has grown larger and larger. I do not think this will change by some voluntary action on the part of companies. So, dealing with executive compensation is going to be part of the fix.

        Take a look at the historical tax rates table.
        From 1932-1986, the top tax rate never went below 50%. Today it is 35%. The top tier is a bit over $300,000.
        No wonder the GOPers are screaming, “Cut taxes.” They know it is coming and they are trying to pre-empt it with faux rage.

        In the glorious 50s and 60s, the top tax rates were 91-92% for people making over $400,000. Sure, the war helped get us out of the depression, but it had to be paid for, and those that got wealthy had to do their share.
        Today, not so much. Screaming about AIG bonuses is not a distraction from the big picture. And I do not buy the “it is just a teeny miniscule part….” line. AIGs bonuses, Goldman’s bonuses, and the school superintendent who didn’t finish his term but got a multi-million dollar golden parachute, and the guy who ran Home Depot to the ground but got millions to leave, throw all of them on the pile of excessive executive compensation and it is a big problem that needs to be fixed. AIG’s were particularly egregious because the taxpayers paid for it.

        Greenspan said he didn’t think that banks would let the system fail, out of their own self interest. It doesn’t take a smarty pants to realize that humans are more disposed toward self-advantage than self-regulation. To “fix” things, government needs to impose regulations and taxation that redistributes the wealth and gets the game going again.

        • phred says:

          I agree completely. There is nothing bright and shiny about the bonuses. I think Obama, Geithner, and Congress are clinging to the hope that all they have to do is get the bonus money back and the problem is solved. I disagree. I think the public is paying much closer attention. The bonuses may have been the carnival barker that drew attention to the show in the tent, but now everyone wants to find out what the hell has been going on in the tent.

          All of it has to be fixed. From the tax system to the regulatory system to wiping out the key corrupt players who gamed our economy straight into the dumpster.

      • jdmckay says:

        The more I see of it, the more I agree that the bonus’ are bright, shiny objects. We’re fixating on less then 1% of the bailout.

        agree.

        I think what they’re trying to hide is that most of the bailout went to big banks to shore up their balance sheets or to buy underprices assets from other troubled firms.

        Oh, but they aren’t trying to hide it. They’ve justifying it, and choosing those guys as vehicle to ride towards recovery.

    • jdmckay says:

      The entire faux outrage over the bonuses seems like another classic GOP misdirection.

      May have been true in Nov., or even inauguration day… but not now. This is Obama’s chosen direction, and he’s the only one who can change it whether willingly or as result of pressure/persuasion/grasp of larger realities he seems to have ignored.

  6. FrankProbst says:

    Hmmm. I try to keep an eye on the bottom line when it comes to Big Shitpile. And the bottom line is that AIG and a bunch of big banks are bankrupt, and nobody wants to admit it. Right now, we don’t have political will for the government take these companies over, but that’s probably the best solution to the problem.

    And from that perspective, last week was a pretty good week. Remember, what we ultimately need is the political will to have the government eat some very large companies. Two weeks ago, most people had never heard of AIG. Today, most people think that it’s a sleazy company that’s taking taxpayer money to award bonuses to the very people who brought the company down. A government takeover is now MUCH more palatable.

    The new Cash For Trash plan from Geithner looks like a disaster, but it’s now much less likely to make it through Congress than it would’ve been two weeks ago. (I’m assuming they get to vote on it.)

    I guess my take is pretty close to Atrios’: We’re going to have to set a lot of money on fire before we get enough people to realize that nationalization of a lot of these companies is our only viable option. Thanks to AIG, we’re a lot closer to that goal.

    • Kinmo says:

      “Cash for trash”, that’s the way I see it also. They trashed the joint with “toxic” junk and now they expect the serfs to rush to clean it up. Not only do we have to clean it up, we have to BUY it. Bow to the masters.

      • FrankProbst says:

        Will the men and women in black go in at night and take over?

        I would imagine that it would go down pretty much the way it goes down when the FDIC takes over any other bank, only on a larger scale.

    • jdmckay says:

      Hmmm. I try to keep an eye on the bottom line when it comes to Big Shitpile. And the bottom line is that AIG and a bunch of big banks are bankrupt, and nobody wants to admit it.

      Actually, they do admit it… BO, Geithner and all the rest. They just don’t call it “bankrupt”, rather regard the “shitpile” as undervalued assets. And they’ve chosen TALF as taxpayer funded vehicle to prop those assets value back up.

      Right now, we don’t have political will for the government take these companies over, but that’s probably the best solution to the problem.

      From what I’ve heard and seen it’s not political will, rather political philosophy.

      The new Cash For Trash plan from Geithner looks like a disaster, but it’s now much less likely to make it through Congress than it would’ve been two weeks ago. (I’m assuming they get to vote on it.)

      A few threats from financial industry to boycott TALF out of fear that Congress (eg. bureaucracy) will retroctively limit “compensation” (eg: how much they can scoop out of $$ flow). But most of big players appear to be onboard.

      Don’t underestimate financial lobby’s clout in getting Congress to do it’s bidding while throwing public a bone here and there (90% bonus tax).

    • jdmckay says:

      I guess my take is pretty close to Atrios’: We’re going to have to set a lot of money on fire before we get enough people to realize that nationalization of a lot of these companies is our only viable option.

      Bigger problem is Treasury/Fed’s well is near dry. BO’s chosen to do what he’s done, shot his wad… and given scope of this thing there’s not a lot of wad left to shoot.

      I think Krugman today summarizes things well:

      (…)Tim Geithner, the Treasury secretary, has persuaded President Obama to recycle Bush administration policy — specifically, the “cash for trash” plan proposed, then abandoned, six months ago by then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.

      This is more than disappointing. In fact, it fills me with a sense of despair.

      (…)Meanwhile, the administration has failed to quell the public’s doubts about what banks are doing with taxpayer money.

      And now Mr. Obama has apparently settled on a financial plan that, in essence, assumes that banks are fundamentally sound and that bankers know what they’re doing.

      It’s as if the president were determined to confirm the growing perception that he and his economic team are out of touch, that their economic vision is clouded by excessively close ties to Wall Street. And by the time Mr. Obama realizes that he needs to change course, his political capital may be gone.

      Not to mention his/our/US’ financial capital.

      • Gitcheegumee says:

        Speaking of Geithner,he oversaw the creation of Maiden Lane ,LLc for AIG.

        Here’s a snippit from Bolo Boffin who did a great piece at Kos,about a month ago:__________________________________
        .

        Let’s go back a bit to when Bear Stearns went under. The Federal Reserve worked together with JPMorgan Chase to get JPMorgan a great deal. The Fed created a limited liability company in Delaware, named after the street the New York Fed bank is on, Maiden Lane. Maiden Lane, LLC, received $29 billion in loans from the Fed, and $1 billion in loans from JPMorgan.

        Maiden Lane used that money to buy up the toxic assets at the heart of Bear Stearns’ woes. JPMorgan Chase then purchased Bear Stearns, free of the toxic assets with $30 billion sitting there all nice and tidy. And then JPMorgan bought Bear Stearns at $10 a share (although, remember, Hank Paulson wanted them to sell at $2.)

        Now this whole deal stunk mightily in the nostrils of Congress, and they saddled the Federal Reserve with some more strigent restrictions on how they deal out the money. And Maiden Lane, LLC, has actually lost $5 billion in value since that time. But that didn’t stop them from pulling out the old playbook when AIG came staggering in through the door.

        Well, what else was the Fed going to do?___________________Bolo Boffin

    • bobschacht says:

      I try to keep an eye on the bottom line when it comes to Big Shitpile.

      One way of looking at it is that during the Bush administration, the financial wheeler-dealers were a privileged class. They were left to play, unmolested, with huge sums of money. This whole thing about the bonuses illustrates the problem perfectly: Bonuses for Bankers, bones for workers. This privileged class has become used to its privileges; its main con games have turned them into “experts” who must be retained, else the con become unwound. Geithner’s Bank Plan doesn’t touch the main con, and in fact avoids dealing with it altogether, which is why it will either fail, or leave the taxpayers with a horribly large bill, or both.

      We are being held hostage by a privileged class playing a huge con game. That’s why the public is so mad about the bonuses: The bonuses are a handy symbol of the Con that is being played on them (us).

      Bob in HI

  7. GregOPauls says:

    The bonuses for all companies who got bail out $$ is so small as to the bail out amount. Let’s let it go. Every single individual would fight the tax that the gov put on their bonus and they would probably win. That would mean more tax payer money spent defending the tax.

    Not sure why obama is behind geithner but that does not seem like a good stance. I think geithner should go back to where he come from. We need to get a strong individual who is not afraid to read the bail out agreements and remove language that does not make sense. Leave out the pork and earmarks please…

    • jdmckay says:

      The bonuses for all companies who got bail out $$ is so small as to the bail out amount. Let’s let it go.

      Sometimes events like the bonus thingie are isolated… not representative of a larger whole. In such a scenario (S&L debacle such an example), the “system” can survive and recover while administering a cure.

      This situation, the bonuses are indeed representative of a larger whole: the entire “financial system”… eg.

      * subprime originators >>
      * investment houses >>
      * repackaged by other investment houses (etc.)

      … the whole damn system was saturated by $$ “managers” scooping huge portions of cash out of funding stream as it flowed past their desks.

      The big problem (literally) was not only did they not add value to anything, they geometrically increased the risk of collapse with an increasing momentum which was 100% unconcerned w/the “financial system” the same guys are now being relied upon to fix.

      So the bonus thing… ya, fixation on AIG at them moment is fixating public (which generally doesn’t really understand what’s happened/happening) on “shiny object” while missing the forest. Problem is the whole damn forest is being (and has been) savaged in the same manner, and those in charge are telling us the forest is healthy.

  8. plunger says:

    As long as you keep in mind that up is down, and black is white, and the the Masters Of The Universe control the Fed and Treasury, and Congress and Justice and the White House – and have had, as their goal – the total destruction of the United States Of America – then none of it is appalling at all. It’s simply predictable (as many have been loudly predicting for years), and coming right on schedule.

    They did all this on purpose.

    They are not appalled – they are fucking delighted!

  9. ally says:

    It was pointed out that the $175,000,000,000 given to AIG – would have paid off about a 1,000,000 mortgage loans of about $250,000.

    Then AIG would not have had to pay many of its Billions in Credit Default Swaps contracts.

    So why are we just giving Billions to crappy AIG – but still not helping people pay off their mortgages?

    Can we ever stop giving Taxpayer money to Corrupt Corporations???

    • plunger says:

      Actually, it’s over. They won.

      The bones of the US have been picked clean by the vultures.

      They’ll continue telling the Fed to print more “money” because no one can stop them.

      When the Fed (a cabal of private bankers who create money from thin air and charge us interest for it) prints “money” and turns around and uses the “money” they print to buy more Treasuries so they can in turn print more “money,” who will stop them?

      We are so far through the looking glass, reality has left the building, never to be heard from again.

      All hail King David (Rockefeller).

  10. SharonRB says:

    I read in one of the papers over the weekend that Doug Poling returned the entire $6.4 million bonus he received. Do we know if that’s true?

  11. foothillsmike says:

    It seems that the lines between the FED and Treasury are very blurred. The Fed, a private group, is receiving information which they may or may not be communicating to the Treasury. Are actions coordinated? If a staff attorney for the FED receives a communication from AIG does that then go up his/her chain of command then over to Treasury or does it go horizontally to Treasury as it would in a integrated system? The Fed is without a doubt operating to maintain the status quo in the banking industry. Does the Treasury then get sucked into the FED group think?

    • bobschacht says:

      Don’t forget to add Goldman Sachs into your incestuous combo. The same people run all three. This is not change I can believe in.

      The shitpile will not shrink until CDS are outlawed or subjected to new and restrictive regulations. We need enforcement of antitrust laws, and perhaps new antitrust legislation, to prevent new conglomerates like AIG and CitiGroup. Under Bush, they seemed to believe that Bigger is Better. I do not see any difference in the current economic team.

      Bob in HI

  12. Gitcheegumee says:

    This link is from a story done on th 29th of this month,relating to the topic of this thread:

    Source: CNN Money

    NEW YORK -(Dow Jones)- Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) Chief Financial Officer David Viniar said the investment bank’s chief executive never held talks with former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson to discuss trading risks with insurer AIG.

    Viniar said Goldman began asking American International Group Inc. (AIG) for collateral in 2006 for eroding trading positions. The increase in collateral calls caused Goldman Sachs to scale back its trading relationship with the embattled insurance giant the following year, he said.
    During this period, Viniar said that Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein never held talks with Paulson about potential problems at AIG.

    …..

    “As far as I know, there were no meetings between Lloyd and Hank Paulson. As far as alerting people, we meet with our regulators regularly.”

    Goldman Sachs, which was AIG’s biggest trading partner, has come under attack after receiving about $14 billion of AIG’s bailout money. Goldman had about $10 billion worth of trading exposure with AIG, of which $7.5 billion was backed by collateral and the balance through hedges.

    Read more: http://money.cnn.com/news/news…..200…

    ——————————————————————————–

    Goldman is ALWAYS first in line at the AIG trough.

    I mentioned this on another thread earlier, but Goldman has a VERY high profile on The Chicago Mercantile exchange,where Rahmbo made his “fortune.”

    It is my understanding that the CME is the financial trading choice for MANY Chinese and Indonesian investors.

    • frandor55 says:

      Rahm Emanuel made $16.5 million as an investment banker in two and a half years after he left the Clinton admin. A safe guess that Rahm has Obama’s ear as much as anyone about the economic/finacial mess.

      So we are supposed to believe that foxes guarding the henhouse will put us back on course? Obama’s policies here are just tweaks of the Bush/Paulson schtick.

  13. plunger says:

    Names like Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Exxon Mobil etc. sound corporate enough, but follow the money to the actual owner at the top of the food chain, and you’ll identify, by name, the criminal(s) responsible for nearly all that has occurred since Y2K:

    Connect All The Dots – follow the money to true power.

    No Coincidence Theorists Allowed.

  14. Hugh says:

    The rationale for keeping the people at AIGFP around never made any sense. Goldman’s designated CEO at AIG Edward Liddy said that those who had written the really toxic stuff, CDSs on CDOs, were already gone. Then there were no “experts” on this stuff to retain. And as we have seen, AIGFP paid out the full amount, without any negotiations or haircuts, on these CDSs, most notably to Goldman Sachs, even though they weren’t in default. So you have to ask yourself how smart these guys were who remained and why AIGFP needed so badly to retain them.

    Now what didn’t get much mention is that AIGFP still has $1.6 trillion in derivatives on its books. Most of these are hedged and appear fairly uncontroversial, at least as far as I know. But $305 billion of them according to AIG’s 10-K report are CDSs and most of these underwrite the reserves of European banks (many of which have taken big losses, so I’m thinking there is still a lot of exposure there).

    So we come around to the same questions again. Seeing what a bad job AIGFP has done so far both in creating these lethal financial instruments and then in getting rid of some of them, do any of us think they will do a better job on this last $305 billion? And as for AIG’s portfolio of vanilla swaps, can’t these be managed by any group of competent accountants?

    As I said at the beginning, this makes no sense.

  15. janv says:

    Well it shows that the Obama priorities are clear: the wall street peers are rescued, blue collar workers…. who cares.

  16. plunger says:

    These were not retention bonuses. They were payola, bribery, hush money.

    The last thing in the world the crooks at the top want to see are any Whistleblowers stepping forward to reveal the truth, or testify as to the actual magnitude of the pyramid scheme (which it is CNBC’s job to keep fed with a fresh supply of greater fools).

    Just like 9/11 – just like the lies that led to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq – the Financial 9/11 and subsequent Greatest Depression will not be subject to judicial review or accountability.

    The Masters Of The Universe don’t do jail time.

    Probably just a coincidence, eh?

  17. Gitcheegumee says:

    Goldman Sachs had up to $20 bln AIG risk-NY Times (Paulson protected GS with $85 B taxpayer bailout)
    Source: Reuters

    NEW YORK, Sept 28 (Reuters) – Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) had as much as $20 billion at risk had the insurer American International Group Inc (AIG.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) collapsed, the New York Times said on Sunday.

    Goldman was AIG’s largest trading partner, the newspaper said, citing six people close to the insurer. A collapse of AIG threatened to leave a hole of as much as $20 billion in Goldman, the newspaper said, citing several of the people.

    The Wall Street bank told the newspaper that it was never imperiled by AIG’s troubles. Spokesman Lucas van Praag also disputed the $20 billion figure, saying it did not account for collateral and hedges that Goldman employed to reduce risk.

    The AIG bailout came after the New York-based insurer saw losses spiral on credit default swaps, which are insurance contracts whose value is tied to underlying securities such as mortgages and corporate debt.

    David Viniar, Goldman’s chief financial officer, told analysts on Sept. 16, hours before the bailout was announced, that Goldman’s exposure to AIG was immaterial.

    Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article…..172…

    • Hugh says:

      David Viniar, Goldman’s chief financial officer, told analysts on Sept. 16, hours before the bailout was announced, that Goldman’s exposure to AIG was immaterial.

      That Goldman’s CFO put out such a bald-faced lie pretty much destroys any credibility he or Goldman might have had (assuming they had any).

      There are many real villains in what has happened and Goldman is and continues to be one of the biggest.

  18. Gitcheegumee says:

    The AIG bailout came after the New York-based insurer saw losses spiral on credit default swaps, which are insurance contracts whose value is tied to underlying securities such as mortgages and corporate debt.

    David Viniar, Goldman’s chief financial officer, told analysts on Sept. 16, hours before the bailout was announced, that Goldman’s exposure to AIG was immaterial._____________________________________________

    I don’t know about how you folks regard this statemnt made last September,right before the bailout,but personally, I think its huge.

  19. earlofhuntingdon says:

    This suggests a startling superficiality – harmful if the bail-out cost two orders of magnitude less than it has – and alarming group think:

    Of course, we need Wall Street’s magicians! Pay any price for them!

    But,

    Of course, we do NOT need the UAW’s labor. Cram them down (but not their leders’ mortgages), violate their union contracts and ship their jobs off to China anyway. That’s GM’s remaining profitable subsidiary.

    Somehow, I think the Fed and the Treasury have it backwards. These guys are going to save us? Who’s “us”?

  20. Gitcheegumee says:

    @44____________:

    No union has EVER existed that has robbed the American worker in the manner in which the non -union thieve,thugs and weasels of Wall Street have…and continue to do.

    Goes to prove the old proverb-”You can steal more with a briefcase than you can with a gun.”

  21. Gitcheegumee says:

    plunger @20: re King David Rockefeller

    Rockefeller writes on page 405 of his memoirs:

    “Some even believe we are part of a secret cabal working against the best interests of the United States, characterizing my family and me as ‘internationalists’ and of conspiring with others around the world to build a more integrated global political and economic structure – one world, if you will. If that is the charge, I stand guilty, and I am proud of it.” (Activists Go Face to Face With Evil As Rockefeller Confronted)

    ______________________________Online Journal

  22. wavpeac says:

    We are being held hostage by a privileged class playing a huge con game. That’s why the public is so mad about the bonuses: The bonuses are a handy symbol of the Con that is being played on them (us).

    I could not agree with this statement more. I think Krugmen knows it, I think William Black knows it. My question continues to be “was this part of a terrorist plot in which our greed and wall street players were used?”

    Maybe not…but it seems to me that “we the people” are not at all in control of the purse strings.

  23. Gitcheegumee says:

    reply @45:

    Here’s a link to an excellent,concise background on the Maiden Lane LLC hijinks.

    DEFINITELY worth a look back ,dated earlier this month.

    Talking Points Memo | More Lowdown on AIG :

    The deal then was JP Morgan put $1 billion into Maiden Lane, the Fed put $29 billion in cash into it. Maiden Lane paid Bear Stearns $30 billion, which went straight back to JP … Copyright 2009 TPM Media LLC. All Rights Reserved. …
    http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/arch…..on_aig.php – 28k – Cached – Similar pages

  24. mui1 says:

    I was watching good morning america and the guest William “house of cards” Cohan seemed to be suggesting that bonuses were necessary to have those with expertise “wind- down the complex trades in the unit at the heart of the company’s collapse.”
    My genuine thoughts: is it really necessary. Can’t someone with a good head on their shoulders trace money from company to company and to the Bahamas and back without so-called million dollar “bonus-worthy expertise” or whatever it is they have to do. Or am I just a layperson who doesn’t understand all the complexities involved?

    • Stephen says:

      Thats the trick, they want to keep the Foxes in the Hen House with their bonuses intact because they surmise that the Foxes are the only ones that can unwind the problem. In fact they do not want anyone near their books that are not in the loop. As far as I’m concerned bonus money is hush money. Forget the war on terror, we now have the war on bankers. They are the nations enemy. They are taking us to the brink. Use wiretapping on them. Try a little rendition or waterboarding. It seems to me that the government hasn’t even looked at the books.

  25. mui1 says:

    This is appalling not just because the Fed and Treasury put off dealing with the question of bonuses at the same time as they were forcing the UAW to renegotiate its contract as a condition of new aid.

    That’s right. To the obama administration, a working man trying to make a living wage just isn’t as important as so-called million dollar bonus worthy expertise.

  26. rkilowatt says:

    Krugman today: “But the fact is that financial executives literally bet their banks on the belief that there was no housing bubble, and the related belief that unprecedented levels of household debt were no problem.”

    err…”bet their banks” actually means “not their own money”; it is a mis-director. They bet OtherPeoplesMoney as opposed to their own. Banking is playing with OPM…it can be played with or without fairness.

    They reap huge personal pools of money as “commissions” or “bonuses” or other euphemisms for siphoning the money flows into their pockets…regardless of profits or losses to the bank, or hedge fund, etc.

    The risks are covertly deflected onto suckers. The schemes are clever strokes that allegedly justify personal capital accumulation.

    Oh, but they do risk their reputations. So do all criminals. Oh, wait…

    “… the whole atmosphere of every prison is an atmosphere of glorification of that sort of gambling in “clever strokes” which constitutes the very essence of theft, swindling and all sorts of similar anti-social deeds.” PKropotkin’s Memoirs, ca 1899

  27. Mary says:

    OT – Seems like the Bush admin offered Binyam Mohamed a plea deal – plead guilty, drop your torture claim and spin yarns from your (or others) torture statements in testimony against other detainees.

    http://www.google.com/hostedne…..gD973RJ100

    A ruling by two British High Court judges, issued in October but released only on Monday, said the U.S. offered former detainee Binyam Mohamed a plea bargain last year — six years after he was first detained as an enemy combatant.

    … The ruling said U.S. military prosecutors also asked that Mohamed plead guilty to two charges, accept a three-year sentence and agree to testify against other suspected terrorists

    Mohamed refused to agree to any deal that prevented him from discussing his treatment, Lord Justice John Thomas and Mr. Justice David Lloyd Jones said in the ruling.

    “He wanted it to be made clear to the world what had happened and how he has been treated by the United States government since April 2002,” Thomas said in the ruling.

    The British judges had ordered that their written ruling be withheld from the public until after Mohamed was released

    When it comes to dropping torture claims, do Executive branch lawyers not understand things like coercion and contracts of adhesion and contracts to cover up criminal activity (itself a crime) and how those are unenforceable? Or do they just threaten to re-kidnap and re-torture and torture friends and family while they are at it as the “legal argument?”

    I know the stories have been that lots of other detainees had to sign off on releases of claims in order to be released, but could you haven anything more disgusting than DOJ telling torture victims they have to stay and risk more torture OR they can waive claims for torture and walk. ?

    blech.

    • skdadl says:

      Wow. What is it going to take for your government and mine finally to break down and admit that they have been not only criminal but strangely twisted in continuing to drone on with rationalizations of this evil system?

      I’m just doing this by memory from February, but it was pretty clear in the High Court justices’ judgement then that the conclusive evidence in those further documents Thomas refers to must consist of statements from U.S. agents, statements they’ve read and wanted to release but decided they could not, under heavy warning from David Miliband.

      They’re getting closer, though.

      • skdadl says:

        Leen, I think the British judges have lots of integrity. They are pushing ahead with this case, and they may decide to publish anyway. They’ve certainly done more than anyone except Mohamed’s own attorneys to break the case open.

  28. Mary says:

    57 – I hope they are getting closer. I do know that all of Maher Arar, Khalid El-Masri and Binyam Mohamed have spoken about OTHERS that were in their blacksites or foreign torture sites at the US behest, none of whom have ever really been chronicled.

    It seems with the al-Marri transfer, now would be a good time for the lawyers for Majid Khan to push hard to revisit attempts to get his case transferred to civilian courts. He was one of the group of cases transferred to Walton, which were all put on hold pre-Boumediene. I don’t know Gov’s resistance is that they basically lack any evidence (which could be) or that they were operating under the “Bush rules” and surveilled and wiretapped without warrant while he was here in the states or other.

    In any event, he is the only person who had been a legal US resident held at GITMO and he has allegedly offered to take a lie detector test, but gov has not allowed it. They argue that his years spent working at a gas station means he must be planning to blow up gas stations – or something like that – and that KSM was going to use him to poisen reservoirs.

    Of interest, he is also the guy who links in info about KSM’s children. Since there is nothing much that the US seems to have to charge Khan with, and since they have made deals with so many others for release or to send to trial, you have to wonder why they have stagnated on him and I have always wondered how much it had to do with not wanting to have discussions about KSM’s children. Khan’s father, after discussions with Khan’s brother (who was originally arrested by the Pakistanis with Khan) released an affidavit and part of it referred to KSM’s children – that they were being held and abused at the same site where Khan was held at one time. There are also references to a 14 yo and a 16 yo being abused in that facility, then sent to GITMO.

    Khan also alleges that some of his sessions were videotaped and that brings the CIA allegations re: the torture tapes into question, since he is saying he was videotaped well after they are saying they stopped videotaping.

    Khan was also at the heart of the pretty damn stunning argument by Gov that he should not be allowed to talk to his own lawyers (with security clearances) about what he had been through.

    http://jurist.law.pitt.edu/for…..of-law.php

    The Justice Department has asked U.S. District Court Judge Reggie B. Walton to forbid Khan from telling anyone, including his own lawyer, the
    details or techniques of his own interrogation. This remarkable request occurred in the context of a habeas corpus proceeding filed on Khan’s behalf to challenge the legality and constitutionality of his detention.

    It’s probably bc I am fixated on the children who have disappeared in our GWOT, but I have to wonder if the reason Khan in particular was one they wanted kept quiet is bc they really don’t want discussions of what the US did with or to KSM’s children.

    I don’t know where the cases assigned to Walton stand now after he put them on hiatus in 07.

    Khan’s brother, who was released by the Pakistanis after a month or so, has the same name as Aafia Siddiqui’s first husband – so the name front gets confusing.

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