AIG Agrees to Freeze Executive Payouts

Halt Comes as New York Attorney General Reviews Insurer’s Actions Before Rescue

NEW YORK — American International Group Inc. agreed Wednesday to freeze some $19 million in payments to its former chief executive, Martin Sullivan, while New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo reviews executive compensation and other expenditures paid out as the company neared collapse earlier this year.

The insurance giant also has agreed not to distribute any funds from its $600 million deferred-compensation and bonus pools of its AIG Financial Products subsidiary, which Mr. Cuomo has said was largely responsible for the company’s near collapse.

The company recently received credit lines of up to $122.8 billion from the federal government, helping it avoid collapse. Last week, AIG had tapped $82.9 billion of those credit lines. Some regulators, including Mr. Cuomo, are troubled by outsized compensation packages being paid to departing executives in the financial industry, particularly if those firms have sought help from the federal government.

“To be clear, it is my position that until the taxpayers are repaid with interest the more than $120 billion that has been used in the rescue financing of AIG, no funds should be paid out of these pools to any executives,” Mr. Cuomo said in a letter Wednesday to Edward M. Liddy, AIG’s chief executive. “As AIG recovers using taxpayer money, these pools should not be used to reward executives ahead of taxpayers.”

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Credit-Rating Companies ‘Sold Soul,’ Employees Said


Deven Sharma (R), president of Standard & Poor’s and Raymond McDaniel, chairman and CEO of Moody’s Corporation listen to remarks by committee members as they display a quote on a screen during the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on “Credit Rating Agencies and the Financial Crisis,” on Capitol Hill in Washington October 22, 2008.

Oct. 22 (Bloomberg) — Employees at Moody’s Investors Service told executives that issuing dubious creditworthy ratings to mortgage-backed securities made it appear they were incompetent or “sold our soul to the devil for revenue,” according to e-mails obtained by U.S. House investigators.

The e-mail was one of several documents made public today at a hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in Washington, which is reviewing the role played by Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings in the global credit freeze.

“The story of the credit rating agencies is a story of colossal failure,” Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, a California Democrat, said at the hearing. “The result is that our entire financial system is now at risk.”

Moody’s and S&P in recent months had to downgrade thousands of mortgage-backed securities, many of which were originally given top AAA ratings, as delinquencies on the underlying loans soared well beyond the companies’ estimates and home values fell faster than they expected.

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US air strike blunder kills nine Afghan soldiers

US-led coalition forces have mistakenly killed nine Afghan soldiers in an air strike, the Afghan defence ministry said today.

The overnight attack on an Afghan army checkpoint in the Syed Kheil area of the eastern Khost province also wounded another three troops, according to the regional governor, Arsallah Jamal.

“Nine have been martyred, three wounded, one critically, in the attack by international forces,” said ministry spokesman Zaher Azimi.

The Afghan defence ministry condemned the attack, warning that such incidents would weaken the spirit of the Afghan National Army (ANA) and undermine its relations with the US troops who train the force.

The US military said its forces “may have mistakenly killed and injured” Afghan soldiers in what may have been a case of mistaken identity “on both sides”.

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Fed to Provide Up to $540 Billion to Aid Money Funds

Oct. 21 (Bloomberg) — The Federal Reserve will provide up to $540 billion in loans to help relieve pressure on money-market mutual funds beset by redemptions.

“Short-term debt markets have been under considerable strain in recent weeks” as it got tougher for funds to meet withdrawal requests, the Fed said today in a statement in Washington. A Fed official said that about $500 billion has flowed since August out of prime money-market funds, which with other money-market mutual funds control $3.45 trillion.

The initiative is the third government effort to aid the funds, which usually provide a key source of financing for banks and companies. The exodus of investors, sparked by losses following the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., contributed to the freezing of credit that threatens to tip the economy into a prolonged recession.

“The problem was much worse than we thought,” Jim Bianco, president of Chicago-based Bianco Research LLC, said in a Bloomberg Television interview. Policy makers are trying to prevent “Great Depression II” by stemming the financial industry’s contraction, he said.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. will run five special units that will buy up to $600 billion of certificates of deposit, bank notes and commercial paper with a remaining maturity of 90 days or less. The Fed will provide up to $540 billion, with the remaining $60 billion coming from commercial paper issued by the five units to the money-market funds selling their assets, central bank officials told reporters on a conference call.

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Sir Ken Macdonald: Centuries of British freedoms being broken by security state

Centuries of British civil liberties risk being broken by the relentless pressure from the ‘security state’, the country’s top prosecutor has warned.

Outgoing Director of Public Prosecutions Sir Ken Macdonald warned that the expansion of technology by the state into everyday life could create a world future generations “can’t bear”.

In his wide-ranging speech, Sir Ken appeared to condemn a series of key Government policies, attacking terrorism proposals – including 42 day detention – identity card plans and the “paraphernalia of paranoia”.

Instead, he said, the Government should insist that “our rights are priceless” and that: “The best way to face down those threats is to strengthen our institutions rather than to degrade them.”

The intervention will be seen as a significant setback to Home Secretary Jacqui Smith who last week saw her plans to lock up terror suspects for 42 days before being charged thrown out by the House of Lords.

It is also a blow to Miss Smith’s plans for a super-database to record the details of millions of people’s online presence, including emails, SMS messages and Facebook profiles as well as the controversial identity card programme.

Sir Ken chose to issue his tough warning about the perils of the “Big Brother” state in his final speech as DPP, days before he leaves his post at the end of this month.

He warned that MPs should “take very great care to imagine the world we are creating before we build it. We might end up living with something we can’t bear”.

Sir Ken, who has held the post for the past five years, said: “We need to take very great care not to fall into a way of life in which freedom’s back is broken by the relentless pressure of a security State.

“Technology gives the State enormous powers of access to knowledge and information about each of us, and the ability to collect and store it at will.”

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Bush Decides to Keep Guantánamo Open

WASHINGTON – Despite his stated desire to close the American prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, President Bush has decided not to do so, and never considered proposals drafted in the State Department and the Pentagon that outlined options for transferring the detainees elsewhere, according to senior administration officials.

Mr. Bush’s top advisers held a series of meetings at the White House this summer after a Supreme Court ruling in June cast doubt on the future of the American detention center. But Mr. Bush adopted the view of his most hawkish advisers that closing Guantánamo would involve too many legal and political risks to be acceptable, now or any time soon, the officials said.

The administration is proceeding on the assumption that Guantánamo will remain open not only for the rest of Mr. Bush’s presidency but also well beyond, the officials said, as the site for military tribunals of those facing terrorism-related charges and for the long prison sentences that could follow convictions.

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The Federal Reserve; Why the bailout has already failed; The Pentagon cannot account for $ 2,3 Trillion and the connection to 9/11; The $ 1 Quadrillion derivatives black hole

Reuters reports: Banks borrow record $437.5 billion per day from Fed (Oct 17, 2008)

CBS NEWS reports one day before 9/11: Pentagon Cannot Account For 2,3 TRILLION Dollars

The Independent: A £516 trillion derivatives time-bomb (Oct.12, 2008)

More articles on the derivatives market: www.infiniteunknown.net/tag/derivatives/


Added: Oct. 01, 2008

Source: YouTube

Ron Paul: We could take our lumps, save money, pay our bills, restore liberty, and in a year we could have the most booming economy ever


Ron Paul, whose libertarian-leaning candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination spurred millions of supporters, says the federal government could do much to repair the economy short of regulating.

While running for the Republican presidential nomination, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas frequently sounded the alarm regarding the nation’s fiscal health. Years ahead of the current economic crisis, Paul was questioning the nation’s debt level, now an acutely pressing issue amid all the recent stock market volatility.

With the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve rapidly moving toward more government intervention in the marketplace while trying to stabilize the nation’s banks and shore up its financial institutions, Paul has argued for a hands-off approach. He opposed both versions of the financial rescue plan that came before the House – the first one, which was rejected, and the second, which was passed and signed into law.

Politico’s David Mark interviewed the 10-term congressman, who has still not endorsed Republican John McCain for president. Here are some excerpts.

Q: With the stock market still in flux and the risk of massive financial failures growing, what’s the worst-case economic scenario you envision over the next couple of years?

A: The worst part could be that this would linger for a decade or more. In fact, a very serious recession or depression is on schedule. You cannot avoid it. Eventually it has to come, but it doesn’t have to end badly. We could take our lumps, save money, pay our bills, restore liberty, and in a year we could have the most booming economy ever. But it would take a complete change in attitude.

If we continue to believe it’s freedom, capitalism and private markets that are the problems, we’re in for very bad times.

Read moreRon Paul: We could take our lumps, save money, pay our bills, restore liberty, and in a year we could have the most booming economy ever

Sarkozy Calls For European ‘Economic Government’

Sarkozy wants top EU economy team

Mr Sarkozy is steering the EU presidency until January

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has called for a European “economic government” to ensure a more united EU response to financial turmoil.

The leaders of the 15-nation eurozone should co-ordinate their actions with the European Central Bank, he said.

Meanwhile the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said Europe should weather the worst of the turmoil thanks to the EU’s “crisis management” measures.

However, the IMF predicts eurozone growth will slow to 0.2% next year.

That compares with a predicted rate of 1.3% this year and 1.4% in 2010.

In its latest assessment, the IMF forecasts that the Irish Republic and Italy will prove to be in recession already, with growth figures for 2008 of -1.8% and -0.1% respectively.

Both would remain in recession next year, with Spain joining them.

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Morgan Stanley’s Bonuses Get Saved By You and Me


A woman exits the Morgan Stanley headquarters in New York, Sept. 18, 2008. Photographer: JB Reed/Bloomberg News

Oct. 21 (Bloomberg) — Wall Street had it wrong: An investment bank’s most precious asset isn’t the army of employees who head down the elevators each day. It’s the paychecks they take with them out the door.

You can imagine the devilish grins on the faces of Morgan Stanley employees last week, after the Treasury Department said it would pump $10 billion into the bank. Not only did we, the taxpayers, save their company, with the help of a Japanese bank named Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. More importantly, we funded their 2008 bonus pool.

Morgan Stanley has accrued $10.7 billion of employee- compensation expense this year, almost twice as much as its pretax earnings. The vast majority of this remuneration hasn’t been paid yet. Now it probably will be, assuming the firm survives through next month. Meantime, Morgan Stanley’s stock- market value has dropped $34.7 billion, to $21 billion, since the company’s fiscal year began.

Read moreMorgan Stanley’s Bonuses Get Saved By You and Me