The AIG rescue is the incident from which all other Goldman conspiracy theories spring -- the original sin, in a sense, of Goldman's current public tarring. It's the act that first made the average man on the street sit up and say, "Hey, wait a minute. The secretary of the Treasury [i.e. Henry Paulson], who used to be the Goldman CEO, just spent $85 billion to buy a failing insurance giant that happened to owe his former firm a lot of money. Does that smell right to you?" It also seems to have the legs of a potential scandal, with Neil Barofsky, the inspector general overseeing the Troubled Asset Relief Program, conducting an audit of the buyout.Read the whole thing. These three facts -- (a) Goldman has spectacularly profited, at a time of rising unemployment, foreclosures and bank failures, (b) Goldman was the primary beneficiary of the TARP bailout, and (c) Goldman's former CEO was the driving force behind TARP -- are hard to reconcile in any way that doesn't raise the suspicion of corruption.
Then again, if you’ve just posted $3.44 billion in second-quarter profits in an environment where, say, Morgan Stanley just reported a $1.26 billion loss, what does it matter what people say? . . .
SIGTARP Barofsky's investigations are clearly raising questions embarrassing to the people who backed the bailout.
BTW, a friend e-mails to say that Barofsky's estimate of $23.7 trillion TARP liability is a number that "assumes The End of the World As We Know It, or Armageddon, in short." The e-mailer adds:
The number is correct, but the vast majority of the dollars are called, precisely, "contingent liabilities." They may, and they may NOT, become actual liabilities. [Bailout Nation author] Barry Ritholtz, who tends to be a lefty politically but a very hard-ass "numbers" guy pointed that out.The key part is, "The number is correct." The likelihood that taxpayers will actually be required to fork over $23.7 trillion is remote, but it's not a number that Barosky pulled out of a hat.
Yes, the bailout is unpopular and yes, it seems that Goldman Sachs has benefitted far beyond the laws of probability. Ritholtz agrees with that, too. And yes, CitiBank should be closed and sold for scrap.
But be careful with that $23T stuff.
Oh, and speaking of scandal, Instpundit reminds us that today is the official publication date for Michelle Malkin's Culture of Corruption: Obama And His Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks, and Cronies. It's the Best. Book. Evah! Today at her blog, Michelle looks at Obama crony Valerie Jarrett. This afternoon, Michelle will be on Sean Hannity's radio show and his Fox News TV show.
So buy two copies and give one to a liberal friend, just to annoy him.