Financial Regulatory Forum

from MacroScope:

Spitzer: NY Fed “an absolute sinkhole”

To say former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer is no fan of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York would be an understatement.

After arguing financial regulatory reform proposals being discussed in Washington fall short, he said:

"One institution needs to be completely overhauled: The New York Fed," he said.

At a panel in New York,  Spitzer lambasted the  New York Fed as "an absolute sinkhole when it comes to what went on over the past ten years."

"There wasn't a single person there who knew what was going on because this was all one club," Spitzer said.  "Every member of that club wanted to protect what was going on," he said.

US’ Geithner says bank fee can recoup AIG bonuses

By David Lawder

WASHINGTON, Feb 3 (Reuters) – U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on Wednesday said insurer AIG’s contracts to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in bonuses were “outrageous” and appealed to Congress to help recoup the payments.

Geithner said Congress could help recover the “deeply irresponsible” bonuses by passing an Obama administration proposal to levy fees on large financial firms.

“Those contracts were outrageous. They should never have been permitted,” Geithner said in testimony to the U.S. House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee.

U.S. lawmakers turn up heat on Geithner over AIG

By Glenn Somerville and David Lawder

WASHINGTON, Jan 27 (Reuters) – U.S. lawmakers turned up the heat on U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner over his role in the bailout of insurer AIG, challenging his claim he did not influence a decision to keep quiet AIG payments to big banks.

Both Democrats and Republicans questioned whether Geithner, who led the New York Federal Reserve Bank at the time, could have been in the dark over the decision not to disclose details of $62 billion AIG paid to banks to settle swaps contracts.

One Republican said he should resign.

Geithner held firm to his defense that he had withdrawn from decisions by the New York Fed after he was nominated to the Treasury post in late 2008. He forcefully defended his role in helping rescue American International Group Inc.

US’ Geithner, NY Fed defend actions on AIG payments

By David Lawder and Glenn Somerville

WASHINGTON, Jan 26 (Reuters) – U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner denied any role in disclosures about American International Group’s payments to banks and defended his decisions as New York Federal Reserve chief to pay full price to retire AIG credit default swaps.

Geithner, in prepared testimony for a much-anticipated congressional hearing on Wednesday, said protracted demands for concessions from banks in late 2008 could have triggered devastating credit rating downgrades and brought AIG down, with “catastrophic” consequences for the U.S. economy.

Geithner’s testimony is widely seen as important for his future as Treasury chief. He has denied acting in the interests of specific institutions.

FACTBOX-One year on, US’s Geithner faces big challenges

WASHINGTON, Jan 26 (Reuters) – U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is in the eye of a political storm as he tries to deflect congressional inquiry into his role in bailing out insurer AIG and battle a perception that his influence is diminishing.

The White House on numerous occasions in recent weeks has reiterated its support for Geithner, a former New York Federal Reserve Bank president sworn in as Treasury chief one year ago.

A decision last week by President Barack Obama to start a fight with banks by limiting their size seemed to highlight an expanding policy role for Obama economic adviser and former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker, with Geithner less visible.

Bernanke seeks government audit of Fed’s AIG bailout

WASHINGTON, Jan 19 (Reuters) – U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke on Tuesday asked a government auditor to review the Fed’s actions in bailing out American International Group Inc in 2008, as controversy persisted over the central bank’s role in extending billions in credit to the insurer.

Bernanke, in a letter to Acting Comptroller General Gene Dodaro, said the Fed would make available to the Government Accountability Office all documents and personnel necessary to conduct the review.

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U.S. lawmakers force issue on Fed role in AIG bailout

By Glenn Somerville

WASHINGTON, Jan 12 (Reuters) – U.S. lawmakers moved on Tuesday to force release of documents that may show whether the New York Federal Reserve pressured insurer AIG to limit discussions about payments to banks when current Treasury Secretary Geithner led the New York Fed.

The Democrat who heads the House of Representatives Oversight Committee, Rep. Edolphus Towns of New York, issued the subpoena to the New York Fed saying it “will provide the committee with documents that will shed light on how and why taxpayer dollars were used for a backdoor bailout.”

Congressional ire was fanned by the refusal of the inspector general for the government’s bailout fund, the Troubled Asset relief Program or TARP, to release material on AIG’s payments to banks because the Federal Reserve asked them not to make them available to the public.

U.S. lawmakers press for Geithner testimony on AIG payment information

By David Lawder

WASHINGTON, Jan 8 (Reuters) – U.S. lamakers on Friday pressed for Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to testify on whether the New York Federal Reserve Bank improperly pressured AIG to withhold information on payments it made to banks after its government bailout.

The requests came even as the Obama administration and the New York Fed rushed to say that Geithner, who headed the reserve bank at the time of the AIG rescue, was unaware of any emailed advice by Fed lawyers to limit disclosures.

Edolphus Towns, chairman of the House of Representatives Oversight and Government reform committee, said he asked Geithner to testify on the matter the week of Jan. 18 at a hearing to examine emails between New York Fed and AIG lawyers that show AIG was advised to withhold “key details” of the bailout terms from the public.

BREAKINGVIEWS-Advice to credit-default-swap regulators for 2010

– The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

By Richard Beales

NEW YORK, Jan 4 (Reuters Breakingviews) – Lawmakers and bank-bashers have pinned blame for the financial crisis — and in particular the collapse of American International Group — on the credit default swap (CDS) market. Changes to and tighter oversight of the giant market are needed. But action should address real, not imaginary, problems. Reuters Breakingviews offers some advice.

1) Don’t ban CDS instruments. They didn’t cause AIG’s downfall — poor risk management did. AIG built up exposure out of all proportion to its ability to cover losses. It was an old trader’s game: selling out-of-the-money options to bring in what looked like risk-free revenue — until the unthinkable happened and losses swamped all previous profits.

U.S. pay czar vows to rework 2010 AIG bonuses

Kenneth Feinberg, special master for executive compensation under the Troubled Asset Relief Program at the Treasury Department, testifies  before the House Oversight and Government Reform committee during a hearing on ?Executive Compensation: How Much is Too Much?? on Capitol Hill in Washington October 28, 2009. The Obama administration's pay czar said on Wednesday that renegotiating guaranteed bonus contracts at American International Group's AIG Financial Products unit was a top priority for him in 2010.   REUTERS/Yuri Gripas (UNITED STATES POLITICS BUSINESS)   By David Lawder
WASHINGTON, Oct 28 (Reuters) – Renegotiating bonuses to American International Group employees is a “top priority,” the Obama administration’s pay czar said on Wednesday, adding he believes he can do so without losing key employees.

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