The CDS Puppetmaster Behind It All And The Ever Increasing Parallels Between AIG And Greece

Goldman Sachs

David Fiderer’s below piece, originally published on the Huffington Post, continues probing the topic of Goldman and AIG. For all intents and purposes the debate has been pretty much exhausted and if there was a functioning legal system, Goldman would have been forced long ago to pay back the cash it received from ML-3 (which in itself should have been long unwound now that plans to liquidate AIG have been scrapped) and to have the original arrangement reestablished (including the profitless unwind of AIG CDS the firm made improper billions on, by trading on non-public, pre-March 2009, information), and now that AIG is solvent courtesy of the government, so too its counterparties can continue experiencing some, albeit marginal, risk, instead of enjoying the possession of cold hard cash. Oh, and Tim Geithner would be facing civil and criminal charges.

Yet as we look forward, we ask, who now determines the variation margin on Greek CDS (and Portugal, and Dubai, and Spain, and, pretty soon, Japan and the US), the associated recovery rate, and how much collateral should be posted by sellers of Greek protection? If Greek banks, as the rumors goes, indeed sold Greek protection, and, as the rumor also goes, Goldman was the bulk buyer, either in prop or flow capacity, it is precisely Goldman, just like in the AIG case, that can now dictate what the collateral margin that Greek counterparties, and by extension the very nation of Greece, have to post on billions of dollars of Greek insurance. Let’s say Goldman thinks Greece’s debt recovery is 75 cents and the CDS should be trading at 700 bps, instead of the “prevailing” consensus of a 90 recovery and 450 spread, then it will very likely get its way when demanding extra capital to cover potential shortfalls, since Goldman itself has been instrumental in covering up Greece’s catastrophic financial state and continues to be a critical factor in any future refinancing efforts on behalf of Greece. Obviously this incremental margin, which only Goldman will ever see, even if the CDS was purchased on a flow basis, will never be downstreamed on behalf of its clients, and instead will be used to [buy futures|buy steepeners|prepay 2011 bonuses|buy more treasuries for the BONY $60 billion Treasury rainy day fund].

In essence, through its conflict of interest, its unshakable negotiating position, and its facility to determine collateral requirements and variation margin, Goldman can expand its previous position of strength from dictating merely AIG and Federal Reserve decision making, to one which determines sovereign policy! This is unmitigated lunacy and a recipe for financial collapse at the global level.

This is yet another AIG in the making, with Goldman this time likely threatening to accelerate the collapse not merely of the US financial system, but of the global one, in order to attain virtually infinite negotiating leverage. Of course, the world will not allow a Greece-initiated domino, allowing Goldman to call everyone’s bluff once again.

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Secret Banking Cabal Emerges From AIG Shadows

Jan. 29 (Bloomberg) — The idea of secret banking cabals that control the country and global economy are a given among conspiracy theorists who stockpile ammo, bottled water and peanut butter. After this week’s congressional hearing into the bailout of American International Group Inc., you have to wonder if those folks are crazy after all.

Wednesday’s hearing described a secretive group deploying billions of dollars to favored banks, operating with little oversight by the public or elected officials.

We’re talking about the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, whose role as the most influential part of the federal-reserve system — apart from the matter of AIG’s bailout — deserves further congressional scrutiny.

The New York Fed is in the hot seat for its decision in November 2008 to buy out, for about $30 billion, insurance contracts AIG sold on toxic debt securities to banks, including Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Merrill Lynch & Co., Societe Generale and Deutsche Bank AG, among others. That decision, critics say, amounted to a back-door bailout for the banks, which received 100 cents on the dollar for contracts that would have been worth far less had AIG been allowed to fail.

That move came a few weeks after the Federal Reserve and Treasury Department propped up AIG in the wake of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.’s own mid-September bankruptcy filing.

Saving the System

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Société Générale prepares clients for ‘global economic collapse’

Société Générale has advised clients to be ready for a possible ‘global economic collapse’ over the next two years, mapping a strategy of defensive investments to avoid wealth destruction.

Explosion of debt: Japan’s public debt could reach as much as 270pc of GDP in the next two years. A bullet train is pictured speeding past Mount Fuji in Fuji city, west of Tokyo Photo: Reuters

In a report entitled “Worst-case debt scenario”, the bank’s asset team said state rescue packages over the last year have merely transferred private liabilities onto sagging sovereign shoulders, creating a fresh set of problems.

Overall debt is still far too high in almost all rich economies as a share of GDP (350pc in the US), whether public or private. It must be reduced by the hard slog of “deleveraging”, for years.

“As yet, nobody can say with any certainty whether we have in fact escaped the prospect of a global economic collapse,” said the 68-page report, headed by asset chief Daniel Fermon. It is an exploration of the dangers, not a forecast.

Under the French bank’s “Bear Case” scenario, the dollar would slide further and global equities would retest the March lows. Property prices would tumble again. Oil would fall back to $50 in 2010.

Governments have already shot their fiscal bolts. Even without fresh spending, public debt would explode within two years to 105pc of GDP in the UK, 125pc in the US and the eurozone, and 270pc in Japan. Worldwide state debt would reach $45 trillion, up two-and-a-half times in a decade.

(UK figures look low because debt started from a low base. Mr Ferman said the UK would converge with Europe at 130pc of GDP by 2015 under the bear case).

The underlying debt burden is greater than it was after the Second World War, when nominal levels looked similar. Ageing populations will make it harder to erode debt through growth. “High public debt looks entirely unsustainable in the long run. We have almost reached a point of no return for government debt,” it said.

Inflating debt away might be seen by some governments as a lesser of evils.

If so, gold would go “up, and up, and up” as the only safe haven from fiat paper money. Private debt is also crippling. Even if the US savings rate stabilises at 7pc, and all of it is used to pay down debt, it will still take nine years for households to reduce debt/income ratios to the safe levels of the 1980s.

The bank said the current crisis displays “compelling similarities” with Japan during its Lost Decade (or two), with a big difference: Japan was able to stay afloat by exporting into a robust global economy and by letting the yen fall. It is not possible for half the world to pursue this strategy at the same time.

SocGen advises bears to sell the dollar and to “short” cyclical equities such as technology, auto, and travel to avoid being caught in the “inherent deflationary spiral”. Emerging markets would not be spared. Paradoxically, they are more leveraged to the US growth than Wall Street itself. Farm commodities would hold up well, led by sugar.

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AIG Discloses Counterparties as Obama, Cuomo Assail Bonuses

This time the bailout money from the U.S. taxpayer went to:
Goldman Sachs led beneficiaries, with $12.9 billion, followed by SocGen, France’s No. 3 bank, with $11.9 billion, and Deutsche Bank, Germany’s biggest lender, with $11.8 billion. Barclays Plc received $8.5 billion from AIG, Merrill Lynch & Co. got $6.8 billion, Bank of America Corp. got $5.2 billion and UBS AG got $5 billion.

“I was happy to see that AIG finally handed over the counterparty information we’ve been requesting for months,” said Representative Elijah Cummings, a Maryland Democrat on the House Oversight Committee. “However, I am deeply concerned that Goldman Sachs received so much money from AIG considering the relationships between the two companies. We will certainly be investigating this further to ensure that this is merely a coincidence.”

A pedestrian walks past the Societe Generale SA company logo in Paris

March 16 (Bloomberg) — American International Group Inc., bailed out four times by taxpayers and under pressure to show what it’s doing with the money, disclosed which banks and states got $105 billion of U.S. funds and may have to name some of the employees splitting $1 billion in retention pay.

President Barack Obama called AIG’s $165 million of retention bonuses handed out yesterday unwarranted and vowed to block or recover them. Andrew Cuomo, New York State’s attorney general, demanded names of the recipients and said he’d send a subpoena if New York-based AIG didn’t respond by 4 p.m.

“It’s hard to understand how derivative traders at AIG warranted any bonuses, much less $165 million in extra pay,” said the text of Obama’s White House speech today. “How do they justify this outrage to the taxpayers who are keeping the company afloat?”

AIG has been pressed to reveal its inner workings since the U.S. took a stake of almost 80 percent last year to avert a collapse of the insurer, once the world’s biggest. Yesterday, AIG said U.S. states and banks led by Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Societe Generale SA and Deutsche Bank AG were among those that benefited from the rescue, now valued at $173 billion.

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French trader losing £3.5 billion at Societe Generale used clairvoyants to predict future

The French banker accused of gambling up to £50 billion on the stock exchange relied on clairvoyants to predict the future, it emerged yesterday

Even when arrested for losing £3.5 billion at Societe Generale, Jerome Kerviel asked his brother: “Can you find me the number of a telephone psychic?” After an astrologic reading, Kerviel conceded that he faced a “black future” up to and including a trial and lengthy spell in prison.

The extraordinary revelations are contained in Paris court documents.

Kerviel, 32, has admitted that he went “a bit too far” in his gambling, and that he “got carried away” as he amassed his losses.

He claims his bosses at Societe Generale turned a blind eye to his high-risk trading strategy.

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Depression ahead, prepare for stock rout – Societe Generale

LONDON, Jan 15, 2009 (Reuters via COMTEX) — Societe Generale said on Thursday that the United States’ economy looks likely to enter a depression and China’s could implode.

In a highly bearish note, veteran cross asset strategist Albert Edwards said investors should now cut equity exposure after a turn-of-the-year rally and prepare for a rout.

He predicted that the S&P 500 index of U.S. stocks could be set for a fall of nearly 70 percent from recent levels.

Edwards also raised the danger of a global trade war with China.

“While economic data in developed economies increasingly reflects depression rather than a deep recession, the real surprise in 2009 may lie elsewhere,” Edwards wrote.

“It is becoming clear that the Chinese economy is imploding and this raises the possibility of regime change. To prevent this, the authorities would likely devalue the yuan. A subsequent trade war could see a re-run of the Great Depression.”

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U.S. Treasuries bubble about to blow: Societe Generale

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – U.S. government debt is heading toward bubble territory and investors should prepare to exit, or risk seeing those assets lose up to a fifth in value, French bank Societe Generale (SOGN.PA) said on Tuesday.

U.S. Treasuries — a $5-trillion-plus asset class of which foreign investors, notably major international players such as sovereign wealth funds, own half — could rally further in the near term as headline inflation rates look set to dip into negative territory by March-April.

“That will be good for bonds in the very short term,” Alain Bokobza, head of pan-European equity and cross-asset research at Societe Generale, told a briefing for investors in Frankfurt, Germany’s banking capital.

But Treasuries would suffer down the road from the issuance of bonds required to finance U.S. government spending programs intended to revive the economy, notably President-elect Barack Obama’s approximately $800 billion stimulus package.

“If we look ahead, fiscal policy will once again become a very big driver of government bond markets,” said Michala Marcussen, head of strategy and economic research at Societe Generale Asset Management (SGAM).

“If there’s one place where there is a bubble, it is U.S. Treasuries … At some point I think it will blow,” she said.

In such a scenario, yields, which move in the opposite direction to prices, would rise.

If U.S. 10-year Treasury yields returned to “normal” levels around 4 percent to 4.5 percent, from below 2.5 percent today, investors stand to lose 15 to 20 percent of the value of those bonds, Bokobza said.

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