Home > Economics, Politics > Bailout Money and Spanakopita

Bailout Money and Spanakopita

There’s a new term in America’s lexicon: “bailout money”. A friend said to me last weekend, “Let’s not go to that restaurant, that place takes ‘bailout money’.” As in expensive. Very. One of my favorite dishes, spanakopita, usually isn’t very expensive. It usually doesn’t take “bailout money” to buy spanakopita. Usually.

Speaking of the $787bln bailout, what happened to (y)our bailout money? There is evidence now that some of the companies that received our bailout money – Goldman Sachs, French company Societe Generale, etc. – were associated with the mortgage bankers that offered the high risk loans in the first place. Mortgage companies associated with these investment banks were offering loans to people without even verifying employment and income claims. In other words, they knew these loans were very high risk. And when they tanked, they received our money to get bailed out of the very problem they created.

Here’s how it worked. In a bit of financial hocus-pocus, Goldman Sachs, SocGen, etc. rolled up these high risk loans into something that people could invest in called CDOs. They were basically bonds, which have a guaranteed return. The return to the investors was supposed to be provided by the interest payments that people make on their mortgages. And it would have worked if people kept paying their mortgages on time. Before it blew up, however, there was a bit more hocus pocus: Goldman Sachs, et al. knew these CDO investments were super high risk. So they bought insurance policies. AIG decided to insure the debt of these high risk home loans with something called credit default swaps. Bad move. Once the people – the same people that never should have been offered these home mortgages in the first place – started defaulting on their payments, Goldman’s and SocGen’s CDOs were not making their expected returns. So, they called their insurance company AIG for a payout. There were so many bad CDO bonds (based on high risk loans) made by these and other banks, and insured by AIG, that when it came time to pay the claims, AIG went bankrupt…..well almost. Instead, the US of A decided to step in and bail them out. Just to make sure this is clear: Goldman Sachs and friends – unethically, or at the very least with conflicting interests – made the bad loans to begin with, which created the problem. Next, they purchased insurance without disclosing the true nature of the assets they were insuring. Then they were bailed out of their poor business decisions with our money.

What did AIG do with the money? First, they were forced to pay out their insurance claims *at full value* to Goldman Sachs, Societe Generale, etc. although everyone already knew by this point that the mortgages they had insured were worthless. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York ordered http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=ax3yON_uNe7I AIG to pay them back at full value even though AIG was in the process of negotiating the payout at a large discount. The Federal Reserve of NY then hid this fact for more than a year from Congress and other oversight committees even though AIG wanted to publish the information. Conflicting interests, anyone? A year later, Goldman Sachs is paying out $23 billion in bonuses to it’s employees. Yes, that’s with a “b” for billion. That’s enough money to send 460,000 people to Harvard or buy health insurance for 1.7 million families. I wonder what the NY Fed Chair is getting. Oh, and in case you aren’t following, that’s your money they are paying out as bonuses to their employees.
http://rawstory.com/2009/2009/10/goldman-sachs-2009-bonuses-to-double-2008s-23-billion-could-buy-115-million-iphones-or-send-460000-to-harvard/

AIG received more than $182bln of our money. And this is only one example. The list goes on. A lot has been – and will be – said about the lying, cheating and cover-up in this bail-out scandal. I don’t have the space or inclination to delve further right now. Maybe later. I hope people like Darrell Issa www.darrellissa.com get to the bottom of this.

But my question is: why the slimy and secret cover-up from the Administration? Why cover up what happened to our $787bln if there’s nothing to hide Mr. Treasury Secretary Geithner? What happened to the transparency that was promised on the campaign trail? Where are the healthcare debates on C-Span that were promised on the stump? Where are all my friends that drank the kook-aid and insisted Obama would be different? Instead, we have his particular brand of Chicago politics at the national level. As US News & World Report claims, the stimulus program and healthcare are loaded with hidden political pork: Pelosi and Co. receiving $54M in earmarks to relocate a wine train in California; Reid and Co. arranging an earmark for a Los Angeles-to-Vegas high-speed train. The healthcare bill, specifically, was another fiasco of political corruption, with millions of dollars allocated to buy votes, such as those of Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu and Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson. Anger with that process and the bill it produced helped fuel the stunning election of Republican Scott Brown in Massachusetts. http://www.usnews.com/articles/opinion/mzuckerman/2010/01/21/mort-zuckerman-the-incredible-deflation-of-barack-obama.html?PageNr=1

Is this the Hope and Change we were promised?

But back to AIG and the spanakopita. Due to the bailout, the USA (that’s you and me) owns 80% of AIG. Now it’s coming out that – according to a German newspaper – AIG sold the same kind of credit default swap insurance policies on Greece’s national debt. http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2010/02/german-paper-says-aig-may-have-sold-cds-on-greece.html Greece is currently floundering in debt and is in danger of going bankrupt. The EU has already imposed austerity measures on Greece to ensure that they are able to pay back their mounting debts and keep their status in the European Union. Suddenly it appears that it is in the USA’s – I mean AIG’s – I mean the USA’s interest to keep Greece from defaulting. How? Well, remember that European vacation/home in Greece you have fantasized about? Well, it may very well be that the USA will be purchasing a whole bunch of mortgages & homes in Greece — with your money — but there’s a catch: the Greeks get to keep living in them, not you.

Speaking of Greece, Aristotle made a point in 350BC that still rings true today. Legislators and politicians that get paid a lot of money and can stay in office for a long time are a danger to the Society. Not only do they receive the honor of the State, they will soon start taking the people’s money. And this makes the people doubly angry. Not only do the politicians have the honor, but they make themselves rich off the work of the people. Aristotle also saw how it gets resolved: The people will not stand for this for very long before they revolt and change the government. It was true back in 350BC and it’s true today. We the People will not stand for this type of slimy highway robbery bailout, secretive behind-closed-doors healthcare legislation process, and cover-up much longer. This should not be taken lightly, but it might just be the hope and change we are looking for in America.

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  1. Jeff
    February 24, 2010 at 4:53 pm

    Also remember who the Director of the Fed NY was – the guy who forced AIG to pay out to Goldman at 100%? Tim Geithner, formerly of… (wait for it…) Goldman.

    Now THAT is PULL.

    • February 24, 2010 at 9:57 pm

      Yeah, good point Jeff. Think what that means was *really* going on!!

  2. February 24, 2010 at 5:02 pm

    Transparency? Who said that? What is it, again?

    I hadn’t heard about us helping bail out Greece. Why? With what? I tell ya, Leftie “logic” continues to confound me.

    Great post, Merty. It’s one of those subjects I knew I should look into but just couldn’t find the will or the time. Now, I don’t have to. Thanks!

    Sirrahc
    http://AViewFromTheRight.wordpress.com

    • April 7, 2010 at 3:42 pm

      Hey thanks sirrach…and as you see, greece and the USA are back in the news together again. interesting!

  3. February 24, 2010 at 10:14 pm

    Glad to be hooked in with you Sirrahc

  4. Duan W
    February 25, 2010 at 8:52 am

    So, I think that’s the clearest (and most concise) I’ve heard the bailout process described … and it evoked some probably expected emotions. 🙂

    I really liked your last article — put a personal face — personal experience — on the whole topic of immigration. My brother-in-law is from Oaxaca, Mexico, so the topic of immigration has always seemed much more personal to me …

    Thanks! 🙂

    • April 7, 2010 at 3:34 pm

      hey thanks Duan…I appreciate it. what is your take on immigration? what is your brother-in-laws take on it?

  5. February 25, 2010 at 4:15 pm

    Wow. I understand it so much better now. Thanks for taking the time to make clear what I’m sure nobody really wants the public to truly understand. I’m waiting for more! Keep them coming.

  1. February 24, 2010 at 6:57 pm
  2. March 5, 2010 at 2:03 am

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