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Friday, March 20, 2009

Great Recession Roundup — March 20, 2009

Items of Interest:

Goldman Sachs, Welfare Queen - Wall Streets most storied firm is surviving on taxpayer dollarsDaniel Gross / Newsweek:
Goldman Sachs, Welfare Queen -- Wall Street's most storied firm is surviving on taxpayer dollars.

While it was singed in the credit meltdown, Goldman Sachs, the alpha male of Wall Street, has emerged as a survivor. The cover of last week's Barron's heralded the resurrection of Goldman and Morgan Stanley—"the sole standouts," as Andrew Bary called them. The company's shares have rallied back above $100, and its market capitalization is nearly $47 billion. Goldman's emergence from the wreckage could be seen as yet another glorious chapter for the firm. Charles Ellis, in his book about Goldman, The Partnership, lionized the firm as the only company "with such strengths that it operates with almost no external constraints in virtually any financial market it chooses, on the terms it chooses, on the scale it chooses, when it chooses, and with the partners it chooses." For the paperback, Ellis might want to add the following proviso: so long as the government is willing to give it billions of dollars...

discussion:
John Robb: Targeting Banksters?
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More Backlash on AIG Bonuses, Bailouts and Blame

New York Times:
Scorn Trails A.I.G. Executives, Even in Their Driveways — The A.I.G. executive who was nicknamed “Jackpot Jimmy” by a New York tabloid walked up the driveway toward his bay-windowed house in Fairfield, Conn., on Thursday afternoon. “How do I feel?” said the executive, James Haas, repeating the question he had just been asked...
discussion:
Lynnley Browning / New York Times:
A.I.G. Sues U.S. for Return of $306 Million in Tax Payments — While the American International Group comes under fire from Congress over executive bonuses, it is quietly fighting the federal government for the return of $306 million in tax payments, some related to deals that were conducted through offshore tax havens...
discussion:
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New York Times:
Off With the Bankers — A.I.G. can hardly claim that its generous bonuses attract the best and the brightest. So instead, it defends the payments by arguing they're needed to retain employees who are crucial for winding down transactions that are “difficult to understand and manage.” ...
discussion:
Kevin Drum / MoJo Blog Posts: Indispensable?
Kevin Hayden / American Street: ‘Indispensable’ is always a clue
Simon Johnson / The Baseline Scenario: Parallel Bankers — AIG is arguing that its people …
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CNN:
Geithner: Treasury pushed for bonus loophole — Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told CNN Thursday his department asked Sen. Chris Dodd to include a loophole in the stimulus bill that allowed bailed-out insurance giant American International Group to keep its bonuses....
discussion:
CNN:
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AIG CEO Edward M. Liddy testifies before CongressDaniel Gross / Slate:
Got The Wrong Guy: Why AIG Hearings Failed --The appearance by AIG CEO Edward Liddy before Congress on Wednesday was billed as an epic confrontation between the angry tribunes of a furious public and an arrogant Wall Street. Chris Matthews hyped it on MSNBC as "Watergate Redux." But the actual hearing—Liddy's appearance and questioning lasted barely longer than the two-hour preliminaries—was disappointing and misguided.
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Charles Krauthammer / Washington Post:
Bonfire of the Trivialities -- A $14 trillion economy hangs by a thread composed of (a) a comically cynical, pitchfork-wielding Congress, (b) a hopelessly understaffed, stumbling Obama administration, and (c) $165 million.

That's $165 million in bonus money handed out to AIG debt manipulators who may be the only ones who know how to defuse the bomb they themselves built...
Michael Lewis / Bloomberg:
Mass Hysteria Over AIG Obscures Simple Truths

Christopher Roach / Mansized Target:
AIG: Political Three-Card Monte
Ian Bremmer & Sean West, Wall Street Journal
AIG and 'Political Risk' -- After quietly tolerating $170 billion in bailout money for AIG, why have the public, Congress and the administration suddenly blown up about a tiny fraction of that amount that is being paid out in retention payments and bonuses?..
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Jeff Matthews Is Not Making This Up:
Boo-Yah! Will Never be the Same --
“What it feels like to us, and I’m speaking purely as a laymen, it feels like we are capitalizing your adventure…”

—Jon Stewart to Jim Cramer, March 12, 2009
...We think it’s about time somebody called CNBC out for the mindless cheerleader it has become...
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----tulip mania

Calculated Risk

MishTalk - Mike Shedlock

Paul Krugman - NY Times

The Big Picture - Barry Ritholtz

naked capitalism - Yves Smith

Pragmatic Capitalism

Washington's Blog

Safe Haven

Paper Economy

The Daily Reckoning - Australia