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      Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – January 29, 2023 by Tony Wikrent   Altercation: Goodbye and Thanks Eric Alterman, January 27, 2023 [The American Prospect] The key question I want to leave people with is this: Given the lack of guardrails, how far are these people willing to go? Trump is as popular as he was before January 6th and has been invited back on […]
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Tuesday: Yeah, why *are* we giving bailout money to foreign banks?

Gretchen Morgenson, finance reporter for the NYTimes, gave an interview to Terry Gross yesterday.  Terry must be on the road to Kool-Ade sobriety.  She didn’t sound nearly as hopeful about Obama’s Change-tastic administration.  Come to think of it, even I didn’t expect Obama to be this bad.  It simply boggles the mind how  strongly the finance giants have him in their grip.

There weren’t any standout quotes from the interview.  Morgenson is calm and direct, unlike Adam Davidson on Planet Money who was boiling mad over the bonuses on yesterday’s podcast. ( Anger is good, Adam.)  But Morgenson asks some great questions like why is US taxpayer money bailing out foreign banks like HSBC?  She gives a little bit of the background of the credit default swap industry and says that the whole ingenius concept of this nifty little “instrument” that brought the world economy to its knees started in London.  Well, that’s something we didn’t know before.  Was this some kind of British revenge for that Independence thing?  Were they just waiting for the right moment to unleash havoc?

Terry seemed to be pretty bummed about the bonuses that AIG employees are getting.  The retention bonuses are a way of keeping the bastards from fleeing the company in pursuit of greener pastures, like that’s going to happen.  Morgenson thinks that AIG’s insistence that they must be paid because of some unbreakable contract is a form of blackmail.  Plus the instruments are so confounding that only the geniuses that put them together can resolve them.  She’s also pretty skeptical about the legalities of the contract.  Bankruptcy judges are in the habit of breaking contracts to satisfy creditors so why not in this case?  If I were an auto worker, I’d be ready to march on Washington over this bull$#@% argument.  The UAW has been forced to renegotiate labor contracts to keep the auto industry from going under.  Hmmm, do you think Obama will get their endorsement next election season?

But let’s think about this bonus-retention idea for a second.  Are the AIG guys saying behind closed doors, “Give us the money with no strings attached and we’ll get you out of this mess.  If you don’t, we pull the plug on the world’s markets.”?  Because if they are, I’d call their bluff.  No, seriously.  Call me crazy but that sounds like terrorism and we don’t negotiate with terrorists.  What we do with terrorists is declare them enemies, put them in jail while they’re awaiting trial and seize their property.  Then we can force the shareholders to “take a haircut” as Morgenson says, provided pension funds are covered with the bailout money first.  I mean, why are Geithner and Summers playing patty-cake with these people?  It’s not rocket science anymore.  These are bad guys.  They are holding a financial gun to our heads.  Throw their asses in jail already, impose some huge bail so they don’t flee and make them sit in a cold and lonely cell until they come to their senses.  I give these cushy bastards a weekend before they crack.

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71 Responses

  1. You just cannot make this stuff up, can you?

  2. I followed a link to EmptyWheel a couple of days ago with THIS link:

    the white paper AIG just used to convince Tim Geithner that, while the US government can force car companies to cut the wages of line workers

    from The Semtex in the AIG Retention Contracts:

    I take this to mean that if a bunch of AIGFP managers quit because they didn’t receive bonuses promised in their contracts, then France could, if it wanted, to appoint its own designee. And if that happened, then it would equate to a default and those contracts would kick in, at a cost to AIG the US government of at least tens of billions.

    In other words, I take this to be a threat: “if you don’t give us our bonuses, we’ll trigger a default event that will cost AIG the US government tens of billions of dollars.” It’s just a polite way of saying, “Pay us the $100 million ransom or we start exploding the suicide bomber vests we’re wearing.”

  3. In my hometown a while back the county’s cheif executive was retiring and the county commissioners were gonna give him a big bonus AND let him cash out a bunch of unused vacation which would have increased his retirement because it would count as part of his final year salary.

    When the story got out their explanation was that it was a retention bonus.

    Hello? He’s f**king retiring you morons!

  4. “Depression fears rise” with a photo of a tent city as the lead story on CNN this morning. Don’t know how long it will stay up but it’s nice that they finally noticed.

    They had an opinion poll recently asking if Madoff should have to repay his clients. WTF? Since when do thieves get to keep stolen goods. If someone steals my watch and they get caught, then I get my watch back. What sort of world do we live in that we’d actually question whether the thief got to keep it or not?

    “Throw their asses in jail already.” Hell yeah!

  5. After 8 long years of an administration that ranged between dastardly evil and unbelievable incompetence, I can’t take any more. I want the looting of the federal government to stop. It’s our money!

    • Time to stop paying taxes.

      • Yup. Just write your check directly out to AIG…

        I feel like I’m livin’ in Wacky World.

        • That’s an idea, instead of writing your tax check to the feds put AIG’s name in place. Think that would get the point across?

  6. From the CNN article: “Only one in ten say recovery is likely within a year; one in five predict it will take longer than four years for the country to get back on its feet,” Holland said.

    Okay. I just had to snicker. … it will take longer than four years for the country to get back on it’s feet Translation: 20% of the folks polled think the country will get back on its feet as soon as we get rid of Obama.

  7. Our President is owned lock, stock, and barrel by these fine folks. AIG sent this bunch of thugs to the UK to avoid and evade US law and regulation and to specifically engage in credit default swaps. Any one who tries to make it sound like they just fell into this activity by accident is a liar. The gap in UK law is that they do not require as large of reserves kept on hand to cover.

    All of this crap about we need better laws and agencies to regulate is garbage. Our laws are good enough for this rogue enterprise to evade and set up shop in some of the most exclusive real estate in the world in London. Also AIG provided a 7 million dollar flat to the SOB (Joseph Cassani) who ran this scam and 1 Mil per month in “consulting fees” after he ran the company in the ground and quit in 2008 when they knew it was falling apart. AIG is also trying to make it sound like a bunch of FOREIGNERS. Nope again as the main crooks are US citizens. This is just the latest in a series of fraudulent actions investigated and fined by the SEC in very recent years. This is a criminal enterprise and needs to be broken up now. Extortion and terrorism is just their latest crime.

    • This is also interesting I wonder how many at AIG have the same donation history.

      • Screwed up my link. Cassano gave max to Obama Victory Fund and Obama for America in 2008 and no others.

  8. “The Barack Obama administration needed a new target for their populist rabblerousing, since they’ve apparently decided that Rush Limbaugh fights back and the oil companies don’t make enough of a profit to matter. The contractual bonus payouts at AIG came just at the right time for them to demonstrate moral outrage and get the people to aim their ire at a shared enemy. So far, few have figured out that the Obama administration enabled the bonus payouts:

    The nasty little secret at the center of all the outrage is that the Obama administration could have stopped the bonuses by simply stopping the bailout. They could have forced AIG into bankruptcy, which would have voided the company’s contractual compensation obligations. Instead, the Obama administration chose to inject liquidity into AIG, following the lead of the Bush administration, which had done the same thing. That kept AIG’s doors open, and therefore kept its contractual obligations to its employees intact.
    Now Obama is outrageously outraged, as Allahpundit put it yesterday, but over what? A company complying with its contractual obligations? AIG has no more right to abrogate those contracts than any other employer would with its union contracts. Whether or not the compensation agreements reflect wisdom and managerial brilliance, they exist — and as a matter of law, AIG has to honor the commitments. Screeching about the bonuses now is not just futile, but a demonstration of the arrogance involved in these bailouts. If the government wants to tear up all the contracts, it will have to nationalize AIG and get Congress to approve it.”


  9. BTW, CNN has a hotline up this morning, for calls about AIG, and other assorted outrages. At about 8:30 they had over 2000 calls – all angry. One call they aired spoke about a march to Washington, camping on the lawn. People are finally angry, and maybe finding a voice to express outrage. It’s about time. A march is long overdue. Maybe calls for impeachment. Go down the line until we get to Hillary.

    Obama is such a joke. That faux outrage, and disclaiming responsibility. And then his sarcastic comment about his anger when he coughed. He sure didn’t sound angry to me. It seems everything is a joke to him, unless it’s about him.

  10. There are protests ‘tea parties’ planned nationwide for April 15. Yes, it’s mainly conservatives who are organizing the protests, but the issue is what is going on now with our taxpayer dollars and I do not think it that is a partisan issue. Unless one is an Obama partisan and in denial about the outright highway robbery of their taxpayer dollars.

    Anyway, we are planning to go to our local protest here.

  11. I can remember the moment I realized what was going on….the exact moment I saw Nobama’s face and googled his affiliation to Trinity Church. I knew then what many are coming to terms with now–we are fucked. Totally and without a doubt fucked. This man couldn’t pass any 6th grade science or match class at St. John’s in Houston, Texas, and he wouldn’t know a legal brief it quite a few got dropped on his head, but the main problem with this is that he is still smarter than most of America. And I don’t know what is more depressing to me……that a racist misogynist sack of shit is sitting as POTUS or that the American people put him there. One thing is for sure, it is time for revolution yesterday.

  12. Or, and I don’t think conservatives are the enemy anymore…and the sooner we come to terms with that the quicker we might revolt. NOTHING George Bush did is as bad as the best thing Nobama will do, and yes you can quote me on that. The Democraps sealed the deal–they are the worst ever and forever.

    I think we need to reframe the war and the sides: we are fighting for survival and you are either with us or against us. If so-called conservatives are with us than so be it, but the enemy is NOBAMA and the Democraps and those who side with them. Period. We can deal with the other things AFTER the war is won….

  13. I’m glad you posted about this, because I read several pieces about it this morning–it’s everywhere. NY Attorney General, Andrew Cuomo is subpoened AIG for the names of the recipients of the bonuses. Those guys better get private security. They already have guards posted at headquarters.

    From Time: The Poseur/Narcissist in Chief is being unmasked for his faux outrage.

    Obama’s AIG Outrage: All Talk, No Action

    In the middle of decrying the misdeeds of the financial firm AIG, President Obama cracked a joke. “Excuse me,” he said Monday, after coughing into the microphone. “I am choked up with anger here.” There were laughs all around the gilded East Room of the White House, because he didn’t sound angry at all.

    The laughter, of course, did not fit the occasion, the latest in a seemingly endless stream of public events at which Washington’s political leaders work themselves into high dudgeon over the sins of financial wizards who, we are told over and over again, have messed up the world for everyone else. But then, you can only act outraged about the same thing so many times before it all starts to sound stale. These spectacles, the public rhetorical floggings, have become teleplays, as predictable as a daytime soap opera, as comforting as a wet rock.

    …And now he was faced with the fact that his new executive compensation policy, which only applied to a narrow subset of executives at a few institutions, had been powerless to stop the worst violators at AIG from getting their undeserved payday.

    The best the government looks able to do is insist on some tough new pay restrictions going forward before giving AIG its next installment of $30 billion.


    • it’s next installment of $30 Billion? I can’t believe that they are still talking about giving them more money! Perhaps its time for the tea parties to morph into an anti-AIG party!!!!!

  14. WAPO too…

    Anger Over Firm Depletes Obama’s Political Capital

    President Obama’s apparent inability to block executive bonuses at insurance giant AIG has dealt a sharp blow to his young administration and is threatening to derail both public and congressional support for his ambitious political agenda.

    The populist anger at the executives who ran their firms into the ground is increasingly blowing back on Obama, whom aides yesterday described as having little recourse in the face of legal contracts that guaranteed those bonuses.

    But the damage control did not seem to satisfy incredulous lawmakers in both parties, who said the image of financial executives taking huge bonuses from a taxpayer-funded rescue puts the president in a politically impossible position.

    Asked why the administration is attempting to claw back the bonuses now but did not do more to block the payments earlier this month when it was authorizing the latest $30 billion in new loans to the struggling insurer, Gibbs was unresponsive.

    “The administration is taking the steps today to go back and see what can be done,” he said.


    • “The administration is taking the steps today to go back and see what can be done,” he said.

      That has got to be one of the strangest statements I’ve ever seen.

  15. All this talk of millions for bonuses is a distraction to the BILLIONS that the government is giving to AIG. Why the faux outrage now, after the bonuses have already been given out?

    • Because we’re dealing with “3-Card Monte” Obama, that’s why….

    • I think the reason people are finally waking up and so angry is that there could be a case made for giving money to an institution that’s responsible for insuring the whole financial market. But no one anywhere can justify allowing the wealthy CEOs who stole money in the first place, got us into this mess, to steal this money yet again.

      Though I agree, the money shouldn’t have been doled out to them at all. They should have been taken over, CEOs fired before giving them money. Even Reich said that last night, that they should be shut down.

      Hmm, wonder why people like Reich and Krugman are not on O’s financial team. Because they would really do something?

      • speaktruth, your name is apt, of course that’s why Krugman and Reich are not economic advisers. And I’m glad because they can’t be corrupted by the Ocorrupting one.

  16. Grail Guardian is back with some musings on this sort of stuff…esp. Citicorp….the links in her post will make you scratch your head some more….as in Citi gets bailout money, posts a profit, and all along, has been negotiating financing a Mexican port that will hurt U.S. West Coast ports….

    The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the North American Union: A Layman’s Overview of the Coming New World Order


  17. This is for Angie:

    Schumer snubs cramdown compromise


    • Angie would actually appreciate Schumer somewhat. His problem isn’t with the cram down, it’s that the cramdown was watered down on behalf of the banking industry(they put in a bunch of stipulations and hoops for people to jump through to qualify)

  18. Meanwhile, Obama is willing to hand over billions to AIG and his financial buddies, but he wants to generate revenue by taxing insurance plans of veterans?! It’s going to see how quickly he can alienate different groups in the next four years. He’s pissing people off all over the place.

    The American Legion Strongly Opposed to President’s Plan to Charge Wounded Heroes for Treatment

    WASHINGTON, March 16 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The leader of the nation’s largest veterans organization says he is “deeply disappointed and concerned” after a meeting with President Obama today to discuss a proposal to force private insurance companies to pay for the treatment of military veterans who have suffered service-connected disabilities and injuries. The Obama administration recently revealed a plan to require private insurance carriers to reimburse the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in such cases.

    “It became apparent during our discussion today that the President intends to move forward with this unreasonable plan,” said Commander David K. Rehbein of The American Legion. “He says he is looking to generate $540-million by this method, but refused to hear arguments about the moral and government-avowed obligations that would be compromised by it.”


    • Thank you for re-posting this. I posted the article on the last thread, but it definitely deserves a post of its own. I can’t believe this. When I first read it, I had to check the source, to be sure that it was legitimate. This outrages me, more than taxing the health benefits of all workers that receive employer subsidized health benefits.

      Our government asks our young men and women to serve our country, and to be put in harm’s way. And what do they get for their service, pain, disabilities? Thank you very much, and now go get your disabilities treated by private insurance. Good luck with that. The VA has specialized services to deal with service connected injuries. The private sector does not offer these services. We have veterans returning with PTSD, amputations, and TBI, and BO wants them to be treated by private insurance. Unbelievable. I hope everyone contacts their congress person and senators. Bo is truly a sociopath.

      • Don’t forget Gulf War Syndrome! It is so difficult to get private ins cos to cover chronic illnesses like chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia syndromes. Now you are throwing an even more exotic one into the mix.

        This is a direct insult to the military! Remember how Obama said he would take care of veterans? I hate this man! (and I don’t usually use the word “hate” like this, but I find nothing about Obama to like or even respect)

    • This is one decision he will regret. You can’t make people who are willing to sacrifice their lives for their country pay for their own health care. Where is the gratitude?

      • It is also immoral. BO has no moral compass to guide him, except his own arrogance.

    • not going to happen… insurance is specifically in MOST cases sold as not paying for injuries or death during acts of war.

  19. I have worked in corporate America for 30 years. I am familiar with all sorts of bonuses. But I have never seen a bonus given for just “showing up”. In my experience, bonuses are tied into performance. And the profitability of the company. So, if an indivdual does not perform to the agreed standards, bonus affected, if the company has not met profitabiity standards, bonus affected.

    Obviously, by anyone’s standards AIG did not meet either performance or profitability standards. So I find it hard to comprehend who and how these bonuses are written to guarantee money no matter what.

    What would these same individuals receive had no bailout taken place?

    I am not an attorney, but this is no longer AIG money, so there must be something that can be done.

    HOWEVER, this is being all blown up by Obama and his administration to give us all someone to be angry about so we don’t take it out on HIM.


    • I am an excellent multitasker. I can be angry at AIG AND him.

    • I agree mlhath. Obama is a master manipulator. But it’s that little chipping away of people every day that is turning the tide against him. Just wait until their healthcare is taxed.

    • Oh I am WAY angry at the BO administration.

  20. Meanwhile, I sit here printing and clipping grocery coupons while I plan my day off around travelling to three different supermarkets (all close by) to maximize my food purchasing potential. Something is extremely wrong here.

  21. I just received an email for WesPac (Gen. Wesley Clark’s pac), entitled “SIMPLE QUESTION”. In it, the message boiled down to “Does this or that candidate support the stimulus package? And any candidate who does not support the president’s plan is BAD and UNCARING and must be defeated.”

    I was revolted. I have long liked and supported and respected Wes Clark, wanted him badly for president back in the day, and this made me ill.

    My reply:

    “Not so simple a question as you are putting forth.

    The TARP package? You mean the one put forth in hurried secrecy, chock full of earmarks, and giving billions to proven untrustworthy banks with ZERO oversight provisions or strings attached whatsoever? Crafted and administered with the help of the person (Geithner) who helped cause this mess, and set up the travesty that is AIG from the beginning? The plan that our Dear Leader Obama did not even want congresspersons to READ before jumping on board? That stimulus package?

    There are many valid reasons to have utterly opposed that package. It is not nearly so simplistic as “opposed stimulus package = bad guy unconcerned with needs of the people”, and you DAMN well know it.

    You know it. You *know* it. You are too smart and thoughtful not to damn well know it.

    Shame on you, Wes.

    Shame on you for joining in this demagoguery, and the demonizing of all who do not fall lockstep with this incompetent boob.

    Sincerely, and with continued great respect,

    • I’d like to add that to all of the Liberals who allow that there are some good and honest and caring citizens out there who happen to be Republicans, and who for 8 years were DISGUSTED that none of them had the balls to stand up and CALL OUT their own president – well. the shoe is on the other foot now. Are YOU going to have the guts to say he’s dead wrong, even when he is of YOUR party?

      Yeah, you thought it was a such a simple test of moral fiber when you were expecting the Repubs who disagreed with Bush to do it. Is it just as simple now that YOU have to contemplate doing it? Because if you don’t, you are NO BETTER than the Republicans who were reluctant to stand up, and made excuses for him even when they KNEW the guy was fucking up badly.

      • Excellent point WMCB.

        • I’ve come to the conclusion that the whole “my party right or wrong” mindset is just as harmful as the “my country right or wrong” idea.

          The excuse for it is always “Well, yeah, but the other guys are WORSE, so if we criticize our own, we risk demoralizing the political troops, and things falling into the hands of the opposition at the next election.”

          Guess what? That is the EXACT argument (But….look at Iran! Look at totalitarian states! They are so much worse!) that is used to squelch any thoughtful criticism of the actions of the USA. It is the same “If you criticize America, that means you must want to go live in Saudi Arabia” bullshit that demagogues always spout to shut down honest objections to US actions.

          It is high time that honest and thoughtful people from BOTH sides of the aisle stop this farce. STOP thinking that you can’t open your mouth when “your” party does wrong, for fear of “playing into the hands of the opposition and giving them an advantage”. That mindset right there is the ROOT CAUSE of a huge majority of our problems. And the only ones who can stop that are the voters and citizens, by putting aside the “party first” bullshit (neatly disguised and justified and excused as crafty long-term-strategy) and start CALLING THESE BASTARDS ON THE CARPET and also giving credit where credit is due, regardless of what letter is after their name. You don’t have to give up your ideology or affiliation to do that – not at all. It is called being honest, whatever side of the political spectrum you fall on.

          • Couldn’t agree more WMCB! A people divided and hating each other is what both parties need and want. Otherwise we might look around and be hating on them.

          • damn straight WCMB — it’s called integrity

            Even though they are politicians and we are party members does that mean we must have no shred of integrity left???? I think not.

        • Good points all around. I’m glad you spoke up to Mr. Clark. I send replies to the emails I receive, but have no idea if anyone ever sees them. But we have to let the Dems know how we feel and what we are thinking of this whole mess.

      • Well said, WMCB, and I’m happy to see your comments here again.

    • Rendell even said that the provision that would expand unemployment benefits and require states to continue to pay the expanded amount even after stimulus money was gone was a valid reason to oppose portions o fthe stimulus.

      As it is there are at least 4 states that are already borrowing federal funds to cover unemployment as it stands, let alone an expanded plan that states you qualify ifyou become a caretaker for someone who is ill(its a good ideabut Lord the timing for proposing it is wayyyyyyy off).

      • I wonder how long it will be before Rendell is targeted by the bots for giving credence to the idea of refusing some of the stimulus money. The governor of SC is being reamed for this.

        • Gov of TX is catching it for the same reason. No much from inside the state but outsiders are raising a fit.

    • Interesting because I would think that all these infrastructure projects should increase demand for Cat products.

  22. Sen. Dodd added the provision to exempt these bonuses if they were agreed to before Feb, 2009. Now he wants them out…he needs to go. Read if you want to be even more pissed off


    • Dodd’s fake outrage should be exposed. He has been and continues to be one of the main enablers, yet he has been pompously faking outrage over the bonuses that he should have had the foresight to prevent. Any bailout package should have had some type of strings regarding compensation packages and bonuses. One of the conditions for receiving a bailout should have been the nullification of those types of contracts.

    • From the fox link:

      “While the Senate was constructing the $787 billion stimulus last month, Dodd added an executive-compensation restriction to the bill. That amendment provides an “exception for contractually obligated bonuses agreed on before Feb. 11, 2009” — which exempts the very AIG bonuses Dodd and others are now seeking to tax.

      The amendment made it into the final version of the bill, and is law.

      Separately, Sen. Dodd was AIG’s largest single recipient of campaign donations during the 2008 election cycle with $103,100, according to opensecrets.org.

      Dodd’s office did not immediately return a request for comment.”

      • And who signed that bill into law? I would just love to see just one freakin person ask BO about this. Not holding my breath however.

      • From AIG to Fannie and Freddie, I think Dodd is a facillitator of the financial crisis and has taken large donations in exchange for taxpayer money.

        In other words, he’s a crook.

  23. RD — when you say London? That Soros guy is tied into Pelosi having to do with banks/banking? I saw some things at NQ earlier last year —

    And a few other places. I wonder if Madoff was tied into all that with them?

    It’s disgusting. Disgusting.

    This guy was linked to the two of them as well — here is the NYT:

    ps: Happy Saint Patrick’s Day to all.

    As far as I am concerned the guillotine wouldn’t be enough for some of the crooks.

    There are a lot of links/youtubes in this one:



  24. Just got an email from CREDO Action Alert: On Monday morning, President Obama ordered Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner to take every action in his power — including legal action — to stop AIG from handing out bonuses. This is great news — and we should thank President Obama.

    I don’t know why I stayed on their list this long but this was the final straw. When I went to unsubscribe the form asked why I was leaving. This was my response:

    Why am I leaving? Because your blind obsequience to the Obamessiah is no longer amusing. Wake up and realize that his crying foul at this point is just a distraction from his part in the looting. Please remove my name/information from all your lists. Propaganda isn’t going to solve anything. And WTTW: Lay off the kool-aid.

  25. excellent post, RD.

  26. Hi RD. The AIG bonuses should be recaptured. So should severances and bonuses of every C-level exec of a large bank since Stanley O’Neal from Sept 2007. It’s a no brainer. And that should just be the start.

    To answer the question in your header, one reason is because the foreign banks in many cases are our creditors. If we default to them, then the credit rating for our 10 trillion plus national debt could collapse, and the cost of capital to taxpayers could double or worse.

  27. they didn’t even read this porkulus.just signed it.
    i would never.never sign my name without reading it first.sounds like stupid to me..

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