AIG, Goldman Sachs and the Paulson Connection - More Grist for the Conspiracy Mill

 |  Includes: AIG, GS
by: Rolfe Winkler, CFA

From Yves over at NakedCapitalism:

A former managing director at monolines Ambac (ABK) and FGIC wonders why AIG (NYSE:AIG) was bailed out but the monolines weren’t. (He admits to bias, so take this with a grain of salt.)

…the [AIG] bailout was prompted by fear mongering and deliberate strategies and manipulation on the part of Goldman and a few select others, to make sure that AIG would be bailed out to protect their trades in shorting ABS CDOs.

I believe that John Paulson benefited from this bailout, on his $5 billon or so of ABS CDOs with AIG. But not as much as Goldman benefited themselves, via Abacus and, perhaps, other deals.

AIG, Goldman and ABS CDOs were tied together at the center of the crisis. From Goldman’s perspective, all of the other participants were secondary – they had no exposure to the monolines and they were probably hedged against the other banks. The only loose end was the collateral posted by AIG.

The final question that this raises for me: would it have been cheaper for the government and the taxpayer to have bailed out the bond insurers instead of AIG? The total amount of CDOs and credit default swaps that would have needed to be guaranteed would have been smaller. In the number of investors across the market that would have benefited would probably have been larger. The auction rate securities market, the muni market, the investors that held bond insurer exposure to MBS and ABS would have all benefited. None of these markets were aided by AIG’s bailout.

But a bond insurer bailout would not have helped Goldman much and the AIG bailout did.

There’s much more in the post. As chairman of the NY Fed, former Goldman CEO Stephen Friedman was in an opportune place to scare Tim Geithner into bailing out AIG to benefit Goldman (NYSE:GS).

The Paulson connection is intriguing. I’ve always wondered who, ultimately, was on the other side of his “trade of the century.” He bought CDS and the banks he traded with had to lay off that risk to someone. That someone was AIG, which couldn’t have paid up if not for the bailout….. (admittedely, this is supposition on my part…)