Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette
Geithner Raked Over the Coals in House Committee About Libor
By: David Dayen, Firedog Lake
Wednesday July 25, 2012 9:35 am
Barney Frank operated as Geithner’s lawyer through all of this, saying that the 2008-era financial regulators were all Bush appointees. But that’s not the point; none of those regulators had access to documentary evidence of the commission of fraud.
Here’s the backstory. When Geithner ran the New York Federal Reserve Board, they failed to inform US regulators that they had an admission of guilt from a Barclays employee that the Libor was being rigged. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Justice Department had to build their case without the direct evidence of rigging that Geithner and his staff knew all about.
Geithner denied this today. He claimed that he did everything he could. “We took the initiative to bring those concerns to the attention of the broader U.S. regulatory community, including all the agencies that have responsibility for market manipulation and abuse,” he said in testimony.
Well, someone’s lying. And Geithner’s claim that he didn’t know about rate rigging until 2008, when the NY Fed acknowledged in documents that they had evidence in 2007, doesn’t make him a credible witness. Not to mention the fact that the NY Fed set the payouts for the AIG bailout, and the TALF lending facility, using Libor as a benchmark.
If there were any justice in the world, Geithner would be dead to rights. He had documentary evidence of fraud, and he didn’t send it up the chain to the authorities. In fact, he continued to use the fraudulent rates in the NY Fed’s everyday business.
N.Y. Fed quiet on Barclays’ admission of rigging Libor
By Jia Lynn Yang and Danielle Douglas, Washington Post
Published: July 24
Geithner, who was then head of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, did not communicate in key meetings with top regulators that British bank Barclays had admitted to Fed staffers that it was rigging Libor, according to people familiar with the matter.
Instead, regulators at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Justice Department worked largely without the Fed’s help to build a case against Barclays. That work has culminated in a massive scandal rocking the banking industry on both sides of the Atlantic.
Still, the Fed proceeded to use Libor as a benchmark to determine how much insurance giant American International Group would pay back the government during its bailout. The measure also was used in the fall of 2008 to set the interest rate for the emergency lending program called the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility, or TALF.
“That number [Libor] determined how the taxpayer would be compensated,” said Neil Barofsky, who was the chief watchdog of the financial system’s $700 billion bailout. “That’s putting the Federal Reserve’s imprimatur on a rate it has suspicion to think was fraudulent. The Federal Reserve’s use of that and Treasury’s use of that in the bailout sends a powerful message to the market: ‘Hey don’t worry about this, we’re endorsing it.’ ”
He added that the Fed’s response can be measured by the fact that no one has reformed Libor.
Libor is critical because it is used worldwide to set the rates for trillions of dollars’ worth of mortgages, student loans, auto loans and many other financial contracts. It was an especially important metric during the financial crisis because it was a key indicator for the health of the banking industry.
SIGTARP: Taxpayers still exposed as AIG shrinks CDS portfolio
By Jon Prior, HousingWire
July 24, 2012
Taxpayers are still owed more than half their original investment in American International Group even as its non-insurance business operates without a consolidated banking regulator, according to the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program.
AIG still has $30.4 billion from the original $67.8 billion TARP investment outstanding as of July, which is on track to actually earn a return, SIGTARP said in a special report (.pdf) Wednesday.
“For more than two years, AIG has had no consolidated banking regulator of its non-insurance financial business,” SIGTARP said in its report.
Despite the regulatory uncertainty, AIG continues to bet on the mortgage market. From December 2010 through March 31, it doubled its commercial mortgage-backed securities and private-label mortgage bond holdings to $28.4 billion.
New York Fed Faces Questions Over Policing Wall Street
By BEN PROTESS and JESSICA SILVER-GREENBERG, The New York Times
July 24, 2012
(T)he JPMorgan debacle and the interest-rate investigation have raised questions about the New York Fed. They highlight how the regulator is hampered by its lack of enforcement authority and dogged by concerns that it is overly cozy with the banks.
Mr. Geithner is expected to face questions from lawmakers on Wednesday about the rate-rigging inquiry that has ensnared more than a dozen big banks. In June, Barclays agreed to pay $450 million to authorities for manipulating the London interbank offered rate, or Libor.
(T)he New York Fed, which knew Barclays had been reporting false rates at the time, did not stop the actions.
And when Mr. Geithner briefed other American regulators about Libor in May 2008, he did not disclose the specific wrongdoing, according to people briefed on the meeting. In later briefings, New York Fed officials did warn their counterparts about “allegations of misreporting.”
“The regulator has an obligation to make a criminal referral if it suspects a crime may have occurred,” said Bart Dzivi, who served as special counsel to the Federal Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission. “How this doesn’t rise to that level, simply boggles the mind.”