Thursday, January 28, 2010

AIG’s mysterious Schedule A finally revealed
The heavily-redacted regulatory filing that spells out the details of the New York Federal Reserve’s controversial bailout of American International Group is a secret no more.

Reuters has obtained a copy of the five-page document the giant insurer and the New York Fed had asked the Securities and Exchange Commission to keep confidential. The effort by the New York Fed to keep the document under wraps has sparked a furor on Capitol Hill and was the subject of a hearing on Wednesday by House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

The unredacted version of the “Schedule A – List of Derivative Transactions” fills out some of the missing pieces in the AIG bailout, in which an entity set-up by the New York Fed effectively funneled tens of millions of dollars to 16 big U.S. and Europeans banks that had bought credit default swaps from the insurer.

The unredacted version of the Schedule A enables some to identify all of the 178 mortgage-related securities, or collateralized debt obligations, that AIG wrote insurance-like protection on.

It’s been known for months that Goldman Sachs and Societe Generale were the two banks who recieved the most money in the dea because they had insured the most CDOs with AIG. But the new information enables traders, investors and the general public to see just which deals the banks had purchased insurance on.

The new information also reveals that of the 178 tranches of CDOs that AIG insured, some 14% were on deals issued after 2005. That’s critical because in December 2007, former AIG Financial Products head Joseph Cassano had said AIG largely got out of the CDS business by the end of 2005.

The newly disclosed information also reveals that Goldman not only bought a lot of CDS from AIG to protect itself; the Wall Street firm also originated a good number of the CDOs that were in SocGen’s portfolio. Some of the Goldman deals in SocGen’s portfolio that AIG had insured includes CDOs with names like Adirondack 2005, Putnam Structured Product CDO 2002 and Davis Square Funding IV.

Janet Tavakoli, a derivatives consultant who has called the AIG bailout a gift to the Wall Street banks, said the issue isn’t just what deals AIG insured, but the underlying assets in those deals. She noted that a goodly number of the CDOs held by the banks also held pieces of other CDOs.

Goldman Sachs, Societe Generale, Deutsche Bank, Merrill Lynch and other banks sold their ailing collateralized debt obligations to the New York Fed-sponsored entity, Maiden Lane III. AIG then canceled out the CDS contracts it had sold as default insurance on those 178 CDOs.

“If all of this had come out in the public domain in late 2008, Goldman Sachs and Merrill would have been deeply embarassed and the Federal Reserve woudl have been questioned,” said Tavakoli.

In the process, the banks were made whole and AIG no longer had to pay out billions of dollars in cash collateral to the banks everytime the CDOs dropped in value.

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