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from Rolfe Winkler:

Morning Links 1-22

Geithner has reservations on US banks (Wutkowski/Eder, Reuters) More evidence that Geithner is a goner. Will Volcker replace him? Sheila Bair could be a dark horse. She has lots of Democratic fans on the Hill despite being appointed by a Republican. In any case, Geithner was on PBS last night defending the plan.

A closer look at the Volcker rule (Felix) Capitol Hill may not be taking Obama's rule very seriously. They think it was just a way to spin the news cycle away from the fact that healthcare will fail now that the Dems have lost their 60th vote in the Senate. Moreover, they don't think Obama's actually going to wage the fight against Wall Street that he claims he's ready for.

Bernanke faces tougher vote in Senate (Reddy/Paletta, WSJ)

Fed secrecy claims bogus redacted AIG details already public (Adams, Naked Capitalism) More detail in a second post here.

FDIC and Bank of England to cooperate on resolution of troubled cross-border financials (FDIC) Next time a big financial blows itself up, Sheila Bair and Mervyn King want to make sure they're prepared to deal with it in tandem.

Barofsky audit a Fed, not Geithner, problem


Sure, Timothy Geithner led the negotiations with AIG counterparties when he headed the New York Fed last year, but TARP special inspector Neil Barofsky’s audit is damning where it really hurts the Fed. It raises the question of whether the central bank is a tough enough regulator at a time when Senator Christopher Dodd is calling for the Fed to be stripped of such power over big banks.

Big Picture has posted the report in its entirety.

It’s one thing to be a bad regulator during the boom years when, let’s face it, there were bad regulators everywhere. But to shrink from tough negotiations with banks during the height of the crisis when those banks were already benefiting from billion of dollars in state aid will be harder to explain away, though the New York Fed has tried.

Obama’s AIG timidity


I’ve been pretty amazed at how silent the Obama administration has been about Robert Benmosche’s antics since becoming the well-compensated CEO of American International Group–the defacto government owned insurer.

But after reading this story in The New York Times, I was shocked to learn that many in the Obama administration are warying of looking like they are injecting themselves into the company’s affairs. That’s the case, even though many on Team Obama are upset with Benmosche’s $9 million pay package and his desire to move slowly in selling AIG’s assets.

from Rolfe Winkler:

Geithner: Some rescue programs will end, others won’t

Tim Geithner testified before the Congressional Oversight Panel for TARP this afternoon. A few interesting comments with respect to Treasury's bailout initiatives:

On PPIP (Public Private Investor Program):

The Treasury will continue ... its plans to buy small-business loans and to remove toxic assets from bank balance sheets through the Public-Private Investment Program, a Treasury official told reporters earlier today on condition of anonymity. The first PPIP funds are expected to begin operating later this month or in October, the official said.

The capital games that banks play


Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s call for the global banks to set aside bigger capital cushions to better absorb losses on souring securities and ailing loans is a good idea. But that alone won’t be enough to prevent another crisis.

Regulators must also clamp down on the kind of AIG-engineered deals that legally enabled German, French, Dutch, Danish and other European banks to dodge existing capital rules and free up some $400 billion on their balance sheets.

Defoliating JC Flowers


William Cohan has a great takedown of J. Christopher Flowers and his struggling private equity firm in Fortune.

The story sheds light on how Flowers lost a good deal of money for his investors over the past few years and how this has tarnished the reputation he earned years ago at Goldman Sachs.

from Rolfe Winkler:

Talking warrants on TV

Recorded a segment for Reuters Insider today, the TV product in Beta here at 3 Times Square.

One big correction: I say the DIF never charged banks for the insurance it provided.  What I meant to say was that they hadn't charged banks anything over the last ten years.  What I should have said is that, in effect, they haven't really charged anything because the DIF is negligible relative to the deposits it insures.

Geithner comes up empty


Tim Geithner took center stage on Capitol Hill today and once again he disappointed.

Geithner went before Congress to sing the praises of the Obama administration’s plan for regulating derivatives–something that’s much needed. But once again, Geithner failed to explain the criteria that will be used to distinguish standard derivatives from so-called customized derivatives.

PPIP is a pipsqueak


The Treasury Department is finally out with its final version of a plan for ridding the banks of toxic assets and you have wonder why the Obama administration even bothered.

Treasury will now fund the program with $30 billion in government money. Back in March, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner was talking about kicking in between $75 billion and $100 billion into the program.

The people not in the room


President Obama says he wanted a “light touch” in his adminstration’s approach to regulatory reform. And he certainly appears to have gotten that, after a quick read of a draft copy of the administration’s 85-page “white paper.”

Much of the meat of the reform package has been known for quite a while and some of it–like the plan to create a new consumer financial products protection agency–is good. But too much of the reform proposal seems more aspirational than anything else. I stopped counting, but the word “should” appears throughout the text far too many times.