Humpty Dumpty was Pushed
Gretchen Morgenson of NY Times is a great business reporter. She is one of the few financial reporters who went against the market hype during the dot com does real work. In her latest NY Times piece (Testy Conflict With Goldman Helped Push A.I.G. to Edge) she exposed Goldman Sach’s sleazy maneuvers that may have caused AIG to fail in the first place. Furthermore, it may be Goldman’s own bearish positions on mortgage debt may have accelerated the implosion of markets in 2007-2008 time frame.
In just the year before the A.I.G. bailout, Goldman collected more than $7 billion from A.I.G. And Goldman received billions more after the rescue. Though other banks also benefited, Goldman received more taxpayer money, $12.9 billion, than any other firm.
Still, documents show there were unusual aspects to the deals with Goldman. The bank resisted, for example, letting third parties value the securities as its contracts with A.I.G. required. And Goldman based some payment demands on lower-rated bonds that A.I.G.’s insurance did not even cover.
A November 2008 analysis by BlackRock, a leading asset management firm, noted that Goldman’s valuations of the securities that A.I.G. insured were “consistently lower than third-party prices.”
By July 2007, when Goldman demanded its first payment from A.I.G. — $1.8 billion — the investment bank had already taken trading positions that would pay out if the mortgage market weakened, according to seven former Goldman employees.
Still, Goldman’s initial call surprised A.I.G. officials, according to three A.I.G. employees with direct knowledge of the situation. The insurer put up $450 million on Aug. 10, 2007, to appease Goldman, but A.I.G. remained resistant in the following months and, according to internal messages, was convinced that Goldman was also pushing other trading partners to ask A.I.G. for payments.
On Nov. 1, 2007, for example, an e-mail message from Mr. Cassano, the head of A.I.G. Financial Products, to Elias Habayeb, an A.I.G. accounting executive, said that a payment demand from Société Générale had been “spurred by GS calling them.”
Full Story here: