Fri Sep 27, 2013, 10:48 AM
n2doc (34,644 posts)
Krugman: Plutocrats Feeling Persecuted
By PAUL KRUGMAN
Published: September 26, 2013
Robert Benmosche, the chief executive of the American International Group, said something stupid the other day. And we should be glad, because his comments help highlight an important but rarely discussed cost of extreme income inequality — namely, the rise of a small but powerful group of what can only be called sociopaths.
For those who don’t recall, A.I.G. is a giant insurance company that played a crucial role in creating the global economic crisis, exploiting loopholes in financial regulation to sell vast numbers of debt guarantees that it had no way to honor. Five years ago, U.S. authorities, fearing that A.I.G.’s collapse might destabilize the whole financial system, stepped in with a huge bailout. But even the policy makers felt ill used — for example, Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, later testified that no other episode in the crisis made him so angry.
And it got worse. For a time, A.I.G. was essentially a ward of the federal government, which owned the bulk of its stock, yet it continued paying large executive bonuses. There was, understandably, much public furor.
So here’s what Mr. Benmosche did in an interview with The Wall Street Journal: He compared the uproar over bonuses to lynchings in the Deep South — the real kind, involving murder — and declared that the bonus backlash was “just as bad and just as wrong.”
You may find it incredible that anyone would, even for an instant, consider this comparison appropriate. But there have actually been a series of stories like this. In 2010, for example, there was a comparable outburst from Stephen Schwarzman, the chairman of the Blackstone Group, one of the world’s largest private-equity firms. Speaking about proposals to close the carried-interest loophole — which allows executives at firms like Blackstone to pay only 15 percent taxes on much of their income — Mr. Schwarzman declared, “It’s a war; it’s like when Hitler invaded Poland in 1939.”
5 replies, 679 views
Krugman: Plutocrats Feeling Persecuted (Original post)
|phantom power||Sep 2013||#3|
|Martin Eden||Sep 2013||#5|
Response to n2doc (Original post)
Fri Sep 27, 2013, 10:57 AM
Romulox (24,021 posts)
2. "Obama Officials Sought To Keep AIG Bonuses: Dodd"
In a stunning development, Sen. Christopher Dodd said that Obama administration officials asked him to add language to last month's federal stimulus bill to make sure the controversial AIG bonuses remained in place
Response to Romulox (Reply #2)
Fri Sep 27, 2013, 11:56 AM
phantom power (24,227 posts)
3. I remember it well -- it was to "keep the 'experts' from leaving."
Those would, of course, be the same "experts" who fucking cratered their companies, and the world economy, in the first place. Yeah, I'd sure hate to see those guys walk.
Response to n2doc (Original post)
Fri Sep 27, 2013, 12:34 PM
Octafish (42,095 posts)
4. Geithner made sure AIG was made WHOLE 100 CENTS ON THE DOLLAR.
Timothy Geithner and AIG-Gate
The World’s Greatest Insurance Heist
by ELLEN BROWN
FEBRUARY 08, 2010
Geithner has been under the House microscope for the decision of the New York Fed, made while he headed it, to buy out about $30 billion in credit default swaps (over-the-counter derivative insurance contracts) that AIG sold on toxic debt securities. The chief recipients of this payout were Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, Societe Generale and Deutsche Bank. Goldman got $13 billion, roughly equivalent to its bonus pool for the first 9 months of 2009. Critics are calling the New York Fed’s decision a back-door bailout for the banks, which received 100 cents on the dollar for contracts that would have been worth far less had AIG been put through bankruptcy proceedings in the ordinary way. In a Bloomberg article provocatively titled “Secret Banking Cabal Emerges from AIG Shadows,” David Reilly writes:
(T)he New York Fed is a quasi-governmental institution that isn’t subject to citizen intrusions such as freedom of information requests, unlike the Federal Reserve. This impenetrability comes in handy since the bank is the preferred vehicle for many of the Fed’s bailout programs. It’s as though the New York Fed was a black-ops outfit for the nation’s central bank.
The beneficiaries of the New York Fed’s largesse got paid in full although they had agreed to take much less. In a November 2009 article titled “It’s Time to Fire Tim Geithner,” Dylan Ratigan wrote:
(L)ast November . . . New York Federal Reserve Governor Tim Geithner decided to deliver 100 cents on the dollar, in secret no less, to pay off the counter parties to the world’s largest (and still un-investigated) insurance fraud — AIG. This full payoff with taxpayer dollars was carried out by Geithner after AIG’s bank customers, such as Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank and Societe Generale, had already previously agreed to taking as little as 40 cents on the dollar. Even after the GM autoworkers, bondholders and vendors all received a government-enforced haircut on their contracts, he still had the audacity to claim the “sanctity of contracts” in the dealings with these companies like AIG.
Geithner testified that the Fed’s hands were tied and that the bank could not “selectively default on contractual obligations without courting collapse.” But if it was all on the up and up, why all the secrecy? The contention that the Fed had no choice is also belied by a recent holding in the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy, in which New York Bankruptcy Judge James Peck set aside the same type of investment contracts that Secretaries Paulson and Geithner repeatedly swore under oath had to be paid in full in the case of AIG. The judge declared that clauses in those contracts subordinating other claims to the holders’ claims were null and void in bankruptcy.
“And notice,” comments bank analyst Chris Whalen, “that the world has not ended when the holders of contracts are treated like everyone else.” He calls the AIG bailout “a hideous political contrivance that ranks with the great acts of political corruption and thievery in the history of the United States.”