Some financial firms, but not all, will be saved. The pattern was set with Bear Stearns in March and repeated with Fannie,¬† Freddie and AIG this month — but not Lehman Brothers. Information Arbitrage lays it out this morning here.

“Unwittingly or not, Treasury Secretary Paulson has effectively created the Paulson Doctrine. The doctrine states that firms that he deems too big to fail (but we’re not exactly sure where the line is drawn: LEH? No. BSC? Kind of. MER? Maybe. AIG, FNM and FRE? Definitely.) get the U.S. Government (and the U.S. taxpayer) as new senior shareholders, while the others are either left to execute an orderly private markets Good Bank/Bad Bank restructuring (if they can, like Mellon in the late 1980s) or a hurried Chapter 11 Good Bank/Bad Bank restructuring (if they can’t: see BCS/LEH circa 2008).

Sure, the headline reads that the Fed bailed out AIG, but was anyone other than Mr. Paulson pulling the strings? I doubt it. So what of this doctrine, and what does it mean for the global financial markets, the integrity of the U.S. regulatory regime and the U.S. taxpayer?

As for the Federal Reserve-backed rescue ofAIG, Reuters’ Emily Kaiser says that the “US central bank may have wiped out what credibility it won resisting Lehman Brothers’ rescue plea, and opened its door to countless other companies to come calling for cash.”

What do you make of the ‘Paulson Doctrine’?


Picture: Treasury Sec. Paulson/REUTERS/Paul Szep