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Fed E-Mail to Geithner Cites Bank Benefit From AIG

Hugh Son
Bloomberg [1]
Monday, January 25th, 2010

Timothy F. Geithner, who has denied that the financial condition of American International Group Inc.’s bank counterparties was a consideration in structuring the insurer’s bailout, was told by a senior colleague that the rescue was a way to remove “uncertainty” for the firms.

Buying mortgage-linked assets from banks was better “from a financial-stability perspective” than other plans to shield AIG from losses on contracts guaranteeing the bonds, Margaret McConnell, then a Federal Reserve Bank of New York vice president, wrote in an e-mail to Geithner on Oct. 22, 2008. Geithner, now Treasury secretary, led the New York Fed at the time of AIG’s rescue and McConnell’s e-mail.

The special inspector general of Treasury’s Troubled Asset Relief Program wrote in a 2009 report that Geithner said the New York Fed didn’t weigh the financial status of banks, including Goldman Sachs Group Inc., when deciding to fully reimburse them for $62.1 billion of devalued assets. U.S. Representative Darrell Issa, the ranking member of the House oversight panel that called Geithner to testify this week, has described the rescue of New York-based AIG as a “backdoor bailout” of banks.

The New York Fed weighed two other options for stanching losses tied to AIG’s credit-default swaps in the weeks after the September 2008 rescue, the inspector general, Neil Barofsky, said in the Nov. 17, 2009, report. One included asking counterparties to cancel their swaps and selling the underlying assets for an investment in a vehicle that would assume ownership of the securities. Another was for a Fed-backed vehicle to take over AIG’s responsibility of backing the assets.

Full article here [1]

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