In a sane world Tim Geithner’s tax troubles would have kept him from being confirmed as Treasury Secretary. Unfortunately, we don’t live sane and those tax troubles pale in comparison to what we’re learning about the Geithner led Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s role in the AIG bailout:
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York, then led by Timothy Geithner, told American International Group Inc. to withhold details from the public about the bailed-out insurer’s payments to banks during the depths of the financial crisis, e-mails between the company and its regulator show.
AIG said in a draft of a regulatory filing that the insurer paid banks, which included Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Societe Generale SA, 100 cents on the dollar for credit-default swaps they bought from the firm. The New York Fed crossed out the reference, according to the e-mails, and AIG excluded the language when the filing was made public on Dec. 24, 2008. The e-mails were obtained by Representative Darrell Issa, ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
The New York Fed took over negotiations between AIG and the banks in November 2008 as losses on the swaps, which were contracts tied to subprime home loans, threatened to swamp the insurer weeks after its taxpayer-funded rescue. The regulator decided that Goldman Sachs and more than a dozen banks would be fully repaid for $62.1 billion of the swaps, prompting lawmakers to call the AIG rescue a “backdoor bailout” of financial firms.
“It appears that the New York Fed deliberately pressured AIG to restrict and delay the disclosure of important information,” said Issa, a California Republican. Taxpayers “deserve full and complete disclosure under our nation’s securities laws, not the withholding of politically inconvenient information.” President Barack Obama selected Geithner as Treasury secretary, a post he took last year.
One would think, given these revelations, that Secretary Geithner would be cleaning out his desk now, but this administration’s commitment to transparency, and honest government I wouldn’t hold my breath…As Jim Geraghty notes:
AIG’s liquidity crisis hits in September 2008. The Federal Reserve comes in to rescue them with a credit line of $85 billion, and the big, powerful banks received full cash for their credit-default swaps. But because that aspect of the rescue would be a giant p.r. headache, suggesting that the taxpayer was stepping in to make sure Goldman Sachs and the others didn’t lose anything in their deal, Geithner and his team chose to simply not disclose it to the public.
Bottom line Congressional Democrats and the media have invested a fair amount of time in demonizing AIG and its management and criticizing their bonuses. What we’re slowly learning though is that the problem wasn’t AIG, it was the sneaky and underhanded way that Geithner and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York decided to cover their tracks by using AIG as a money-laundering device to bailout politically-connected private institutions.