Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Naked Capitalism: Treasury Telephone Tapping Up

Many thanks to one T Byfield of the rather cryptic and artful b1ff.org blog for posting this at nettime:

A recording of a conference call about the bailout bill held this evening (Mon 29 Sept) by the US Treasury Department with members of SIFMA, the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Ass't, is floating around as a torrent file.
[The uploader is asking for reliable seeding of the file
-- a natural for the likes of Dizzy to go get for T'Interweb naifs like ourselves I'd have thought?]

Yves Smith at the "naked capitalism" blog comments:

Various readers wrote us, and it was confirmed by a detailed
report on the call at DealBreaker, that the Treasury Department
held a conference call this evening for analysts on the bailout
bill. A memo was evidently sent to SIFMA members; others may
have been contacted by other means. But the report I got from
one person who was on the call was the the questions came from
financial services industry members. In other words, this was
most assuredly not intended to be a call open to the public at
large. If anyone from the media or other member of the great
unwashed was listening in, it was by accident.

This is simply scandalous. To have a group of interested
parties get a privileged briefing by government officials on a
matter of keen public interest flies in the face of what a
democracy is supposed to be about. The proper method would
either be a published FAQ on the Treasury website or a briefing
with the media included. But why should I be surprised?
Favoritism has been a staple of the Bush Administration.

His comments, culled from listeners' notes:

1. The tranching is a mere formality, and the Treasury boys as
much as said so. They could take the $700 billion max as soon
as the bill has passed,

2. However, they do not plan any action immediately, will wait
a couple of weeks. They want to focus their efforts on stronger
companies but also made noise about protecting the financial
system. This, by the way, is the Japanese convoy system all

3. There seemed to be a lot of tap dancing about what price
they will pay for assets and no straight answer about their
policy on warrants. They did say that if the amount sold was
greater than $100 million, they would take warrants. FYI, the
current draft allows them to pay up to the price at which the
assets were initially booked (yikes) . I wonder if this is
obfuscation, if they have an idea of what the plan to do but
will not admit it in any public forum.

4. As the person who listened to the call stressed, DealBreaker
wasn't clear on the bifurcated process. If you come to the
Treasury and you are in trouble, you get reamed. Bear/AIG style
treatment, execs probably fired. But if you participate on a
voluntary basis, the intent is to make it very user friendly.
That is consistent with Paulson's position during the

5. The exec comp provisions sound like a joke, They DO NOT
affect existing contracts, they affect only contracts entered
into during the two years of the authority of this program and
then affect only golden parachutes. More detail on that point,
but I don't need more detail to get the drift of the gist.

Much more at Naked Capitalism's Mussolini Style Corporatism in Action post.

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