Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Garcon!

This just brings up the image of these guys sitting on the deck chairs of the Titanic, demanding that their drinks be freshened and their cigars cut and lit.

Street's Demands May Stir Public Wrath
Goldman Sachs Group Inc.'s Lloyd Blankfein, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.'s James Dimon, Blackstone Group LP's Stephen Schwarzman, BlackRock Inc.'s Larry Fink and Silver Lake's Glenn Hutchins assemble for a panel session at the New York Stock Exchange last week organized in part by The Wall Street Journal.

The group pulled straight from the what-government-can-do-for-you school of 2006, lobbying for Wall Street tax breaks, the repeal of Sarbanes-Oxley and against the distraction of class-action lawsuits.

Consider Blackstone's Mr. Schwarzman, who took on a wounded look, saying that none of the people on the panel had done anything wrong. "I don't see corruption in this room. ... Every bad actor in this drama has washed away," he said. "There's no one left in place."

Mr. Blankfein, meanwhile, shrugged off the idea that Wall Street could do much. The political system has gotten so tainted that "people like us may not lift their heads above the parapet to give ideas for fear that their heads may be shot off," the Goldman CEO said.

Mr. Schwarzman at least acknowledged the country's contempt for Wall Street. "The anger is substantial and it has legs," he said
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Greenberg Calls for Changes To AIG's Federal Rescue Terms
Last month, AIG's board entered an agreement with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to obtain the bailout via a two-year credit facility that requires AIG to pay a 2% one-time commitment fee, 8.5% interest on undrawn capital and a floating rate that is currently 14% on drawn capital. The U.S. Treasury received a 79.9% stake in AIG from the deal.

The interest charges currently add up to $1 billion monthly.

The two-year timeframe of the credit facility is designed to allow AIG to proceed deliberately. However, with credit markets seized up, time isn't on the insurance company's side. Further complicating matters, insurance companies are getting hammered on Wall Street, meaning AIG may have to sell more assets than it expected to repay the loan.

Mr. Greenberg would change the loan to nonvoting preferred stock with a dividend of 5% to 6% and a 10-year right of redemption at a 10% premium.

In addition to the $85 billion initially authorized, the company was cleared to borrow up to another $37.8 billion to ease strains from AIG lending out securities to third parties.

"At a minimum, AIG should be afforded the same borrowing terms as other companies," Mr. Greenberg said in a letter filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. "Since the time the credit facility was entered into, the Federal Reserve has stepped up direct lending to scores of financial institutions and, for the first time last week, to nonfinancial institutions. They are able to borrow on terms far less onerous than those imposed on AIG."

Mr. Greenberg, who was ousted from the company's helm in 2005 amid an accounting scandal, believes the current package is counterproductive because it requires AIG to pay interest on money it doesn't borrow, thereby encouraging it to draw down the full amount of the loan.

Guambat reckons these guys might look up the word "forfeit" in the dictionary.

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