"Goldman big winner in government’s revised bailout of AIG"

Note that the headline above was on a Wall Street Journal story about the new taxpayer-raping improved version of the AIG bailout. The current headline is anodyne: “New AIG Rescue Is Bank Blessing.”

Just as one wonders why the government backed down on a deal that was appropriately punitive to AIG (at worst, it was an orderly liquidation, which would be an acceptable outcome, and if management could sell enough businesses at good prices, they might be left with a rump of a company to operate). And now, the Wall Street Journal backs down from a headline that accurately and pointedly describes who does best out of these inexplicably sweetened terms. Both roads appear to lead to Goldman.

As we said in an earlier post on this sorry affair, AIG claimed the interest payments were too high. The only way under the circumstances that they could be “too high” was if the company was having to borrow to fund them. If that was the case, the remedy was simple: require only part to be paid in cash on a current basis, and add the rest to principal. Similarly, AIG said they might not be able to sell subsidiaries in two years (the term of the original loan) to off the debt. Two years is a long way away. I would have waited at least a year and few months before doing anything and then might have extended the loan by a year if I was persuaded AIG really had made bona fide efforts to sell and had not held out for unrealistic prices.

Similarly, Felix Salmon wondered why any changes to the terms were made now, and why this matter was not left to the next Administration. This is all looking, as reader Marshall noted, like the Clinton pardons, except with more dollar signs attached.

But even with the toned-down headline, it looks as if the AIG treatment is, again. all about special dealing on behalf of Goldman. Recall that Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein was the only Wall Street executive invited in to work with Paulson on the terms of the original rescue. These guys are completely shameless, and for good reason. There are no repercussions from this sort of cronyism, not even recrimination in the media.

From the Wall Street Journal:

Banks in the U.S. and abroad are among the biggest winners in the federal government’s revamped $150 billion bailout of American International Group Inc.

Many banks that previously bought protection from the insurer on securities backed by now-troubled mortgage assets stand to recoup the bulk of their investments under a plan by AIG and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to buy around $70 billion of those securities via a new company. These securities are collateralized debt obligations backed by subprime-mortgage bonds, commercial-mortgage loans and other assets.

Banks in the U.S., Europe and Canada bought credit-default swaps on these securities from AIG, which in turn promised to compensate them if the securities defaulted. Defaults haven’t been a major problem, but the market values of these CDOs fell sharply over the past year or so.

That enabled the banks to pry roughly $35 billion in collateral from AIG as a result of those declines and downgrades in AIG’s own credit ratings. The banks that have sought and received collateral from AIG include Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Merrill Lynch & Co., UBS AG, Deutsche Bank AG and others.

Yves here. Note the clearly slanted choice of words, “pry collateral”. Huh? These were contractual terms agreed upon by AIG, and other CDS protection writers (ex ones like Ambac who wrote them as insurance contracts rather than swaps) and (not having seen the documents) appear to be standard. A ton of hedge funds and other protection writers also had to cough up a ton of collateral when the credit instruments they guaranteed, such as similarly dodgy CDOs and deteriorating bond issues by Lehman and its ilk, went south. AIG was not treated unfairly nor is it deserving of sympathy, as the turn of phrase implies.

Back to the article:

Throughout its AIG rescue efforts during the past two months, the government has had the banks in its sights; it made its initial bailout of AIG in part to avoid potential bank losses that might have threatened the broader financial system.

Under the plan announced Monday, the banks will get to keep the collateral they received from AIG, much of which came when the government made funds available to AIG in September. The banks also will sell the CDOs to the new facility at market prices averaging 50 cents on the dollar. The banks that participate will be compensated for the securities’ full, or par, value in exchange for allowing AIG to unwind the credit-default swaps it wrote.

“It’s like a home run for some of the banks,” says Carlos Mendez, a senior managing director at ICP Capital, a fixed-income investment firm in New York. “They bought insurance from a company that ran into trouble and still managed to get all, or most, of their money back.”…

And why do they deserve a back-door subsidy? These were bad investments, but the banks are being rewarded (as always) for lousy business decisions. The previous capital infusions by the TARP carried a well below market fixed dividend payment on the preferred, But we are past that now, the Treasury is now finding creative ways to hand out taxpayer money with no strings attached, and no upside for the taxpayer (yes, technically the CDO vehicle might show a profit, and if it does, the taxpayer SPLITS it with AIG. But if you believe you will see anything from this chicanery, I have a bridge in Brooklyn I’d like to sell you).

Back to the article:

A person familiar with the government’s rescue plan says it wasn’t specifically designed to benefit individual banks at the expense of U.S. taxpayers and AIG, which will end up bearing the risk of the CDOs. However, officials wanted to give banks sufficient incentives to sell the securities so that AIG could cancel the swaps.

The contract cancellations will free the insurer from additional collateral calls on those swaps, which also have been responsible for billions of dollars in write-downs that AIG has logged in recent quarters. The plan is analogous to an insurer buying a house it provided fire insurance on, negating the need for an insurance policy on the home….

Yves again. This is utter rubbish. CDS can be cancelled without going through this nonsense. It is called “commuting” the contract. You negotiate and pay a price. See here for an example. And the house illustration serves to demonstrate how roundabout and inefficient this mechanism is.

Back to the article:

In an interview this week, AIG Chief Executive Edward Liddy said the revised rescue plan “ring-fenced” key problems, including the swaps. It also helps keep these problems from affecting AIG’s other businesses, while giving the company more breathing room to sell assets to pay back a large loan from the Fed that is central to the bailout….

Yves again. This is artful, to put it politely. This deal only applies to $75 billion in insured value of so-called multi-sector COOs. Lest we forget, AIG also entered into CDS to enable European banks to evade statutory minimum capital requirements. I have not independently verified the figure, but have been told those agreements cover $300 billion of risk, and the Journal later also mentions that AIG has insured over $300 billion of assets excluding these CDOs. There are more shoes still to drop.

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45 comments

  1. doc holiday

    Obama should have a full investigation with DOJ, FTC, and SEC to bust Paulson and put in prison for discretionary abuse. Unfortunately, I think Obama will look the other way as he brings in his own bagman!

  2. Anonymous

    I don’t know if any of us will be around to read a definitive history of all of this but your post makes me wonder if we aren’t in more dire straits than we realize. The government knows that the move with AIG doesn’t pass the smell test yet they do it anyway. The Bush administration would like to leave all of this to Obama, and maybe it is better to have a newly elected government with a mandate tackle things, yet they make this move. Am I being paranoid or is that smell desperation?

  3. Anonymous

    Linking back to that fabulous Michael Lewis article in links today, it is only when banks stop being rewarded that the lesson will be learnt. Until then, we will keep on repeating the mistakes in ever increasing circles with ever increasing consequences.

    No human learns unless their actions are followed by consequences.

    This continues (or rekindles) my maddening infuriation!

  4. Dave Raithel

    Sometimes, I’m at a loss for words because I am intimidated by your ferocity; and other times, I’m simply at a loss for words. I tend to rely on you and the people you cite as my points of credible reference (as Thinkers, not Authorities.) I never pretend not to be an autodidact in this field – what I call the nuts and bolts of finance capitalism. So in this particular instance – do you mean to suggest that this, and the previous moves by the parties, is simply outright theft? At some point, talk about “Banana Republics” cannot be just polemical, rhetorical, editorial. Talk like that does eventually demand that somebody do something …

  5. Anonymous

    I wish I was a fly on the wall for the recent meeting between Bush and Obama:

    Obama: “So that’s all there is to it?”

    Bush: “Yeah. It’s crazy simple. You just tell the country that it’s about to collapse, and scare the crap out of them. Get Congress to authorize you to give away $700 billion. Hell, none of those idiots had the slightest clue what was going on. I know you didn’t”

    Obama: “No, I just knew I had to be there to look like I was doing something.”

    Bush: “Don’t feel bad, Barack. None of your colleagues had a clue. Did you see the look on McCain’s face in that meeting? He looked like an old man with amnesia who didn’t even know his own name.”

    Obama: “And then you just start spreading all this money out to your friends….”

    Bush: “Yeah. Well, of course you have to make it a little complicated, but just keep the talking point on “We’re saving the financial system.”

    Obama: “Wow. This is great.”

    Bush: “I really envy you. You’re coming in at just the right time. The s*** hasn’t even BEGUN to hit the fan yet. You’ll be able to cause mass hysteria next year. You can get Ben to run the printing presses like mad, and funnel it to whoever you want. I assume you have people who you can trust to kick enough of it back to you.”

    Obama: “I’m tight with ACORN, man.”

    Bush: “There you go. Your base will love you for it. ‘Community Redevelopment.’ “

    Obama: “Well, this has been an eye-opener. I actually had thought we were saving our financial system when we passed tarp.”

    Bush: (laughing so hard that tears are running down his cheeks) “Man, we’ve even got the Wall Street Journal believing that!”

    Obama: “I really underestimated you. So anyway, what’s the best room for keeping a puppy that hasn’t been housebroken?”

    Bush: “I’d suggest the little one where Bill and Monica used to hide. We’ve sealed that one with duct tape and have never opened it.”

  6. Simpson

    I think you can look at the whole TARP and most of the bail-out steps taken to date as serving two principal goals: (i) preventing GS and MS from going bust; and (ii) trying to disguise principal goal (i) by forcing other banks to accept bail-out money and blocking transparency.

    The AIG restructuring clearly serves both purposes.

    It makes me wonder whether a main driver for Paulson is avoiding personal liability.

  7. baychev

    “The contract cancellations will free the insurer from additional collateral calls on those swaps, which also have been responsible for billions of dollars in write-downs that AIG has logged in recent quarters.”

    this is really cynical. in order to avoid future writedowns up to the full amount that may be due (35bn) they will pay the full amount upfront. paulson and thain (another CDO valuation master) should go to jail!

  8. Anonymous

    Seems to me that Comrade Hank is in a bit of a bind here. If the banks don’t get money for their crap CDOs they think they have insured through AIG, then they are inslovent. And if AIG has to pay out on all the CDS contracts on CDOs it sold, then AIG is insolvent. Either way the taxpayer is picking up the bill, of course, but friend Paulson needs to make the operation look like something else than the highway robbery it so closely resembles…
    As for why not wait til Obama is president, I believe there are two possible explanations: either our self-less public servants want to get as much of the dirty work out of the way now so that the new administration can get a better chance to solve the problems with the economy, or said self-less servants of the people are trying to help their friends in the private sector as much as possible while they are still in power…
    Now, keeping in mind that this is the Bush administration we’re discussing here, which one of those is the likelier explanation?

  9. wintermute

    Fantastic work Yves! At least the medium of the internet is available now – even if print media won’t attack a cronyism/curruption story properly.

    One of my bugbears is the dumbing down of our civilization. It is a creeping malaise of the last 30 years which arises from slackening school standards, dumbing down of video and print news, reality TV, political correctness.

    All of which means that when a significant story of shameless abuse of taxpayers money – like AIG comes to light – the public are turned off by the slightest complication which requires analytical thinking. They need to be angrier at this type of kleptocratic behaviour! But are not because they do not understand it.

    Keep up the good work.

  10. Anonymous

    Thank you Yves for your continuing exposure of this criminal behavior. Is is equally criminal that there is not better public exposure to this sort of information. Alas, the travails of fascism.

  11. Kady

    I’m a bit confused by the following sentence in the article:

    “The banks also will sell the CDOs to the new facility at market prices averaging 50 cents on the dollar. The banks that participate will be compensated for the securities’ full, or par, value in exchange for allowing AIG to unwind the credit-default swaps it wrote.”

    What does this mean? How can the new gov’t funded entity both buy the CDOs at 50 cents on the dollar and compensate the participating banks at par value?

    Or only those participating banks that both had the CDO and the CDS on the CDOs get par value?

    Can anyone clarify?

  12. Yves Smith

    Kady,

    This has never been presented clearly, and even Floyd Norris of the New York Times, was annoyed that AIG management wouldn’t/couldn’t give straight answers.

    As I understand it, the CDOs have already been written down to 50 cents on the dollar on average. So AIG has had to put up the difference between 100 and current value already. Say the mark is 45. AIG has already put up 55 cents in collateral, which (I presume) the CDO owner gets to keep. The entity buys him out for the remaining 45 cents.

  13. mxq

    I agree with everything in this. However, I still take issue with the Blankfein’s apparent cronyism scheme.

    Before I am uncerimoniously beheaded, let me explain. GS ostensibly hedged away their AIG exposure, which was supposedly about $20bn. Assuming that these hedges indeed existed, that would actually make Blankfein a neutral party…aig fails, hedges pay off…aig continues as a “going concern,” the hedges expire worthless.

    I have no clue if that is true. But there is some evidence, at least, that maybe Blankfein was just a consultant/confidant without a pound of flesh on the line.

    Furthermore, BAC et. al weren’t invited b/c their responses were a forgone conclusion (aka “after LEH, you bet your keester you’re bailing out AIG”). Everyone knew that AIG was a systemic risk, but given that GS was the only one invited makes me think maybe it really was just a consultant job.

    I’m obvioulsy long (and wrong) GS…aka don’t buy it/sell it unless you’ve done your own homework.

  14. Anonymous

    Why is everybody so shocked at this? GS could sell a fart in a can for a million bucks per can and most investors who brought in will still believe at the end of the day they got a bargain. I depise GS, but they seem unstoppable. No one can stop these guys. End of story.

  15. SlimCarlos

    @ Yves.

    Touche. I am now shocked and indignant as well. Self-interest has clearly overwhelmed the public interest. You go girl.

  16. David

    The $300B of CDSs left over are not really a problem. Those were to lower risk-weighted assets of banks so they could lend more, effectively giving them more capital. Since all loans carry the same 100% risk-weighting, the banks let AIG guarantee whatever loan portfolios they wanted. They got to cherry pick the best one which are usually older ones with very low LTV. The banks didn’t care about which loans were picked. They never expected any of these to trigger. They just wanted to make room for more loans without having to give up the interest income of the older loans. They only had to pay a small premium to offload the default risk. These have experienced virtually zero losses so far.
    AIG also has like 12% subordination on the portfolios so they need to see 12% loss rates before they pay a penny. If they see 12% loss rates on cherry picked portfolios, the banks will have failed already. I don’t expect they will cause any problems. They also do not trade and cannot suffer from mark-to-market problems that plagued the subrime CDSs.

    Still one should ask, should this be allowed? Obviously AIG could never afford to make payments if there were mass payoffs required. So effectively it is like the banks telling their regulators that some loans have no risk. While that may be true in normal times, if we see another Depression, these so called risk-less loans may prove otherwise.

  17. cap vandal

    “As I understand it, the CDOs have already been written down to 50 cents on the dollar on average. So AIG has had to put up the difference between 100 and current value already. Say the mark is 45. AIG has already put up 55 cents in collateral, which (I presume) the CDO owner gets to keep. The entity buys him out for the remaining 45 cents.”

    I don’t see why this is particularly a windfall for the banks. First, AIG has written down $30 billion on $72 billion of multi sector CDO’s which are identified as the problem CDO’s. A little less then 50%. They have had to put up $39 billion in collateral.

    They “could”, in theory, commute these contracts. However the banks have NO interest in commutations. They already have enough collateral to make them whole under much worse conditions based on alternative valuations. You don’t have to believe AIG’s alternative valuations, but might want to read them — if you really care. They are laid out in the supplemental reports.

    If the banks commute, they still have the CDO and have to deal with their auditors regarding “mark to market.”

    No one really knows what these multi sector CDO’s will do. They do have 20% subordination currently (per their report), and there have been almost no losses to date. That is, they are still paying.

    Anyway, AIG strongly believes that the ultimate performance of the CDO’s will be better then the market prices that they are forced to use in valuing the CDS’s.

    This eliminates the question of valuation — just buy the underlying back at roughly par. AIG takes the hit immediately based on the “market value” which is mostly booked.

    The new SIV buys the CDO at the lower, market price. AIG has already written off $30 billion and don’t expect to have to book much more on this.

    One additional problem is that AIG can’t commute using the threat of insolvency, since they are basically owned by the Fed. The only real leverage the seller has in a commutation is when they can hold the threat of insolvency as a possibility. In those cases, they could get significant discounts.

    The advantage of this is that it provides some finality to AIG’s liability on these CDS’s. The new SIV will own the CDO’s that currently have 20% subordination. Writing them down to market price will increase the effective subordination by 42%. AIG is throwing in $5 billion into the SIV, which is another 7%. So the FRBNY is on the hook for losses on CDO’s with about 70% subordination.

    They don’t keep the collateral. Just decide a market price (which is really between the AIG and the SIV), and then bargain with the holder if there are any unique terms and conditions which create issues. There always are. The most likely situation where AIG would have leverage is where the CDS holder doesn’t own the underlying. In these cases I would expect AIG to bargain hard. There are no doubt other issues to haggle over.

    Once the CDO’s are in the SIV, they will simply amortize over the next five years or so. There is a decent chance they will pay more then the current estimated market value, since it is obvious that this is the absolutely worst time to sell anything mortgage related.

    I would like a clearer description of the mechanics of putting this facility in place.

  18. thomas j

    Well I guess the investment bankers at GS, et. al, earned their bonuses after all.

    Who else could have managed to hoodwink the US media into believing AIG was being bailed out yet never being required to disclose that GS creditors were the real beneficiaries of over $150 billion worth and counting of taxpayer largesse.

    And just who are GS creditors?

  19. cap vandal

    Kaddy:

    “What does this mean? How can the new gov’t funded entity both buy the CDOs at 50 cents on the dollar and compensate the participating banks at par value?

    Or only those participating banks that both had the CDO and the CDS on the CDOs get par value?”

    It is a situation where you have 3 people at the table. AIG has already booked $30 billion on the $72 notional. They aren’t looking for a windfall on these and will be paying a settlement amount from AIG, and then the SIV will buy it at market value, which be close to the value used to calculate AIG’s liability. If there are any issues AIG/SIV will argue that the total price should be adjusted/reduced for that issue.

    The idea is to get the asset out of the companies, put them in a SIV, and see how they pay out.

  20. cap vandal

    “Yves here. Note the clearly slanted choice of words, “pry collateral”. Huh? These were contractual terms agreed upon by AIG, and other CDS protection writers (ex ones like Ambac who wrote them as insurance contracts rather than swaps) and (not having seen the documents) appear to be standard.”

    The collateral is a function of how badly the CDO is impaired and it seems like the banks are being very aggressive. They would have to get their auditor to agree on the valuation, get the holders comfortable with their valuation and then post the difference between the estimated value and par +

    AIG has already booked $30 billion. The counterparties have their own valuations and may want more money for that. In addition, posted collateral might be at 110% of the valuation. All the haggling over this is akin to the banks having to “pry” the capital out of AIG’s hands. There is always something to argue about with an estimate, and the banks seem to want as much as possible. AIG is pushing back causing

  21. cap vandal

    The quoted NY Times guy on the tapes is tossing around problems with this “solution” but seem to have not read the AIG financial report as well as the supplemental information they have available to support the call

    The idea that a commutation would be a simple process shows a lot of experience with those types of transactions.

    The liabilities for European regulatory capital was designed to get them to Basil II where they could calculate risk based capital more favorably. Expected losses on these are around $0.

    Overall, a highly negative article with more conjecture then fact.

  22. Jojo

    @Anonymous said “Linking back to that fabulous Michael Lewis article in links today, it is only when banks stop being rewarded that the lesson will be learnt. Until then, we will keep on repeating the mistakes in ever increasing circles with ever increasing consequences.

    No human learns unless their actions are followed by consequences.

    Nah. Plenty of people have performed the perp walk and gone to prison for less. Maybe a few worry but there are always people willing to take a chance if the money is good enough. And what are the penalties anyway? A couple of years in a white collar prison playing tennis/golf/baseball/basketball, a fine that still leaves you with much of what you made off with and then you get to write a book on release.

    Human greed has and will always triumph.

    btw: Didn’t Goldman stand to lose $20 billion or so if AIG went under? There’s some motivation for AIG’s rescue and another nail in the coffin.

  23. Anonymous

    All of these sad bastards need to be drug out in the street and given the beat down. Bring on the revolution. This sorry little political system can’t collapse soon enough.

  24. Dan

    The problem begins when the regulator is someone directly from the industry being regulated. Paulson, the former head of GS, is OF COURSE going to do acts favorable to GS. For example, like “allowing” Lehman to fail (how much animosity must Paulson have toward Lehman, which is only natural given they were fierce competitors), and “favoring” GS in the AIG bailout. The regulatory system is totally broken.

  25. S

    Liddy is a former goldman hack. Can we finally put to rest that these guys are different. it iskind of like saying SAC is better than everyone else. Yeah if you get the envelope a minute before eveyone else you look good in spite of yourself.

  26. Independent Accountant

    Anonymous of 2:33 AM:
    You don’t know GSG. It would never bother selling million-dollar farts in cans. As for billion-dollar farts, that’s another story. I understand GSG is preparing the prospectus as we “speak”. Lloyd Blankfein thanks you for your idea. He’ll even send you a Christmas turkey as a thank you gift.

  27. Anonymous

    There’s a point one of the subjects of Lewis’s article makes — to paraphrase and summarize: I just kept asking questions, and none of these schmucks could answer them; they didn’t understand their own products. But most of the other “analysts” were all yeah, this is great ’cause Moody’s blessed it. So I knew it was crap.

    There it is — no one asks questions, maybe because they are just insecure and don’t want to look stupid, maybe because they are so stupid that they miss the point entirely, or maybe because they are afraid that if they get the answer (or figure it out themselves) they have to get a conscience and their higher-ups will punish them for their trouble. Or, in their pathetic insecurity, they figure they must have heard wrong or applied faulty analysis or whatever thinking, in order to not harsh the mellow of believing the bullshit is in fact, bullshit.

    Thats how these thieves get away with it all. Playground bullies + rampant stupidity + moronic minions + herd mentality.

    Idiots all. By trusting these Ivy MBA idiots who refused to believe the ratings agencies could be on the take, who refuse to believe GS isn’t god. The list can go on……….. Maybe we deserve it.

  28. Matt Dubuque

    Here’s what the American press won’t tell you.

    The Chinese minister recently recalled from the summit in Bolivia went back to work on the AIG issue. AIG owns a 10% stake in China’s largest insurance company.

    Turn off the television. Avoid the US press. Get up to speed. Stay away from gold.

    Matt Dubuque

  29. Ryan

    Jesus Christ! Force them to sell that money sucking black hole already. With the sale tear of the CDS protection Goldman bought and renegotiate new terms that are punitive, but will not bring down the firm. This is a disgrace!!! Why not just short the middle man and pay Goldman direct?!?

    If non-performers get anymore than 5% of last years bonus they should go to jail. People who actually generate revenue should get nothing above 15% of what would be due to them in a “normal” year. Where is the outrage?

    I’m substantially more pissed given that I know more than a few Goldman guys and 90% are sycophantic, arrogant assholes.

  30. Anonymous

    Gentlemutt: The game is over. Time for the replays and slow-motion analysis. We taxpayers own AIG, full stop.

    Open the books and show the taxpayers all the liabilities so we can see which companies are being saved by honoring AIG’s commitments.

  31. Anonymous

    Just got a transcript of Paulson Q&A about TARP. On inquiring why the page was blank. I was told "We have respectfully removed all the stuttering of the treasury secretary". Guess he didn't say much.

  32. bobn

    Anonymous:

    we will keep on repeating the mistakes in ever increasing circles with ever increasing consequences.

    Ah, yes, ever increasing circles:

    “Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity….”

    – The Second Coming
    – W. B. Yeats, 1919

  33. tompain

    Note that the WSJ’s editorial page has been complaining about how AIG shareholders were treated, while arguing for a revision in the bailout – even as AIG’s condition was worsening, and notwithstanding the fact that bankruptcy was imminent for AIG when it was bailed out. We don’t see, however the Journal calling for shareholders of FNM and FRE to be given back the 80% of equity that was taken from them. No call for the FDIC to rescind its strongarming of NCC. To the contrary, the Journal was encouraging FDIC to be more proactive and aggressive, and is now demanding that GM shareholders be “zeroed out”. Why does AIG hold a favored place in the heart of the WSJ editorial board?

  34. Anonymous

    “Why does AIG hold a favored place in the heart of the WSJ editorial board?”

    two words
    Hank Greenberg
    read the profile in Fortune

  35. Anonymous

    If I follow the post and comments and they are accurate (particularly cap vandal), it seems that the SIV purchasing the CDOs at market value are getting a bargain based on the details that cap vandal provides. Is this SIV owed by AIG and the Fed or Treasury? In what %? Where can I buy some equity in SIV?

    It also seems that the banks are being made whole now through the sale of the CDOs to the SIV and liquidation of the collateral posted by AIG even though there has been no trigger on the CDS (default has not occured, only a decline in mkt val). Because of mark to market acctg they had capitalization issues that would not have occurred if they had held the CDOs to maturity and not had to collect from AIG on the CDS as long as the CDOs never defaulted? Is this the role mark to market acctg has played in the liquidity crisis? Can it be said that mark to market acctg created the collateral call on AIG that is bringing them (I should say us as taxpayers) down?

  36. Martin

    Someone correct me if I’m wrong but my impression was that the collateral calls have nothing to do with the value of the CDS carried on the bank books and everything to do with the downgrades the rating agencies have given to AIG.

    Also it is nice to see that the government is now implicitly guaranteeing AIG liabilities without asking anything in return. I’d love to be able to buy insurance with no counter-party risk. Should we call the entity GovtRe?

  37. Jim T

    Any of you that think something magical (Different or Change) is going to take place when Obama takes office, guess again!

    The only change that you are going to see is the exact same change we have always seen when we move from a Republican President to a Democrate President. (Not much more then window dressing of who gets taxed more the rich or middle class) Outside of that nothing will change.

    Look who he picked for his VP, Chief of Staff and who is on his short list for other positions. Same Old, Same Old Democratic Guard!

    Have you heard ONE NEW FRESH IDEA come out of Obama since being elected? NO! His answers are the same old tired answers going around Washington and Wall Street. BAIL EVERYONE OUT! (NO CAN DO BARAK!)

    ENOUGH ON NOTHING NEW COMING TO THE PARTY.

    The Ben & Henry show has been nothing short of "KEY STONE COPS" politics at its funniest and a "REVERESED VERSION OF ROBINHOOD" as they rob the tax payer (Poor & Middle Class) and give to the rich (Banks, Big Business & Politically Powerful)

    What I have seen done these past fifteen months is nothing short of criminal in many cases and it makes me want to scream with anger that nobody is doing anything about it and everyone just keeps allowing it to go on and actually get worse because now those SOBs know NOBODY WILL STAND UP TO THEM.

    At this point I want Israel to bomb Iran so it tips the table and all of those FAT CATS on Wall Street and FAT HEADS in Washington get what's coming to them. A complete Collapse that favours no one so the pain goes around equally. yes, it hurts everyone but at least it hurts those SOBs too!

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