Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Geithner Says A.I.G. Rescue Prevented a Depression

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner spent several hours being questioned this morning, on the government’s actions during and after the bail out of American International Group (AIG). Geithner said that the decision prevented another great depression and – despite what it looked like – was made to protect the American people.

According to a New York Times story, the committee did not seem impressed with his answers and spent a decent amount of time questioning the Treasury Secretary. You can read a segment of the piece below.

Mr. Geithner said he was not involved in the decision to withhold information about deals that sent billions of taxpayer dollars from the bailout of A.I.G., the insurance giant, to big banks.

“I withdrew from monetary policy decisions,” Mr. Geithner said, “and day-to-day management of the New York Fed.”

The committee called Mr. Geithner, former Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. and other officials to explain, once again, the confounding results of an $85 billion rescue loan made to A.I.G. in September 2008. The loan sheltered big banks from any losses, but saddled A.I.G. with a debt so crushing that the Treasury soon had to step in and provide even more rescue money. Mr. Geithner was the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in September 2008, when the first rescue loan to A.I.G. was extended.

After Mr. Geithner’s statement, the questions focused almost immediately on trying to determine why those negotiating on behalf of the taxpayers did not push the banks to make concessions, like returning the collateral to A.I.G. or accepting less than full value for their contracts with the insurer.

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