Following a few months of courtroom wrangling, Fox Business News has obtained a much-redacted 10,096 pages of Treasury Department documents on the bank bailout. Scrubbed of “proprietary” information and what would presumably be their most explosive revelations, the communiques exchanged between the Bush Administration and executives at Citigroup and AIG read something like “Dumb and Dumber and I Know It Seems Impossible But Even Dumber Than That.” The first role would be played by the TARP overseer and cheerleader for the Italian automobile industry Neel Kashkari, whose aides nervously emailed one another as they watched him testify before the House Financial Services Committee on what exactly he was doing with their money.
Nason: How’s it going?
Zuccarelli: Bad. Serious questions, too, not “chump” type questions. They’re going to start to break Neel down soon, I’m getting worried he’s going to start snapping.
Nason: This AIG stuff is tough to watch.
Zuccarelli: They killed him on exec comp. He didn’t know answer.
But we wouldn’t know how to answer, either, if we’d written the law that appropriated the trillion or so taxpayer dollars that paid bonuses to the clueless executives at AIG and Citigroup:First, because this crisis has been so far short on feminine bad guys, we have AIG general counsel Anastasia Kelly and Paula Reynolds, the company’s restructuring officer. Marshall Huebner, the lawyer hired to represent the government kept trying to arrange conference calls with them, but they kept flaking out and forgetting to confirm the time. “I note that some of them do not have a sense of timeline,” wrote another lawyer (also being paid by the hour with your tax dollars.) But OMG the AIG duo had no idea the holdup was the source of any irritation! Wrote Anastasia to Huebner later that day:
Paula and I love you (in the most appropriate way).
But maybe because their $45 billion bailout was so puny compared to AIG’s, Citigroup seemed most oblivious of all:
Though the details of what specifically held up an agreement with Citigroup at the end of last year are muddy, it’s clear from the documents it dealt with compensation. What’s also clear is that government officials were amazed that, even at the eleventh hour, Citi officials still didn’t seem to understand that they would have to make concessions.
“Unbelievable,” wrote Stephen Albrecht, the counselor to the general counsel at Treasury, summing up the situation.
You can say that a few hundred billion times!