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Financial manipulation alert: Did AIG bailout money secretly prop up banks?

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By Michelle Malkin  •  March 30, 2009 10:03 AM

Financial blogger Zero Hedge has a provocative post that will raise your blood pressure this morning. This is worth fist-pounding and investigation in Congress:

Exclusive: AIG Was Responsible For The Banks’ January & February Profitability

It’s complicated, but it boils down to this: Banks bragged about their wonderful performance the first two months of the year. The market responded positively. But Zero Hedge makes the case that the profitability was illusory — and that the feds surreptitiously funneled money to the banks via AIG.

ZH writes:

For those to whom this is merely a lot of mumbo-jumbo, let me explain in layman’s
terms:

AIG, knowing it would need to ask for much more capital from the Treasury imminently, decided to throw in the towel, and gifted major bank counter-parties with trades which were egregiously profitable to the banks, and even more egregiously money losing to the U.S. taxpayers, who had to dump more and more cash into AIG, without having the U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner disclose the real extent of this, for lack of a better word, fraudulent scam.

In simple terms think of it as an auto dealer, which knows that U.S. taxpayers will provide for an infinite amount of money to fund its ongoing sales of horrendous vehicles (think Pontiac Azteks): the company decides to sell all the cars currently in contract, to lessors at far below the amortized market value, thereby generating huge profits for these lessors, as these turn around and sell the cars at a major profit, funded exclusively by U.S. taxpayers (readers should feel free to provide more gripping allegories).

What this all means is that the statements by major banks, i.e. JPM, Citi, and BofA, regarding abnormal profitability in January and February were true, however these profits were a) one-time in nature due to wholesale unwinds of AIG portfolios, b) entirely at the expense of AIG, and thus taxpayers, c) executed with Tim Geithner’s (and thus the administration’s) full knowledge and intent, d) were basically a transfer of money from taxpayers to banks (in yet another form) using AIG as an intermediary.

For banks to proclaim their profitability in January and February is about as close to criminal hypocrisy as is possible. And again, the taxpayers fund this “one time profit”, which causes a market rally, thus allowing the banks to promptly turn around and start selling more expensive equity (soon coming to a prospectus near you), also funded by taxpayers’ money flows into the market. If the administration is truly aware of all these events (and if Zero Hedge knows about it, it is safe to say Tim Geithner also got the memo), then the potential fallout would be staggering once this information makes the light of day.

…This wholesale manipulation of markets, investors and taxpayers has gone on long enough.

***

Surprise, surprise: Geithner Says Some Banks Need ‘Large Amounts’ of Assistance

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Categories: AIG, Subprime crisis, Tim Geithner

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