… my sources who were involved in the AIG bailout bunker scene of a year ago almost to a man report that Goldman and its chief Lloyd Blankfein took an extremely hard line with AIG.
Why would it act like that? Well, in a normal capitalistic situation, it wouldn’t. But Goldman, it turned out, had an ace in the hole. It seems that when the state stepped in and decided to bail AIG out, its former director, Stephen Friedman, was among those making the decision that AIG’s counterparties should be paid 100 cents on the dollar for its CDS debts. It never made sense that AIG/AIGFP would decide on its own to pay its creditors 100 cents on the dollar for its debts, but now we know, thanks to reporting from Bloomberg, that it wasn’t AIGFP and its CFO Elias Habayeb who was making that decision.
It was, instead, a group of people from the New York Fed who gave that order a group that included Tim Geithner and Friedman. Goldman ended up getting almost $14 billion from AIG after the bailout. And Friedman, we later found out, bought 50,000 shares of Goldman stock after this deal was struck. He resigned in May from the Fed, a few days after the Wall Street Journal broke the story about Friedman’s stock purchases.
Friedman surely had information about key moves involving the bank — like Goldman getting paid off at par in the AIG bailout, or Goldman getting a federal bank charter overnight so that a mountain of cheap Fed money could save it from bankruptcy — before the market got it. That he bought 50,000 shares in Goldman after the AIG bailout and is not in jail right now is sort of amazing, until you consider that it will be a cold day in hell before a former head of Goldman Sachs is arrested for insider trading, even when he gets caught doing it red-handed.
Say it with me, kids: Rigged. Game.