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Swiss Bank Is Only AIG Counterparty to Volunteer Concessions

To what extent were Wall Street’s largest firms willing to sacrifice their own skin to fix the economy they helped topple? Well, not much of one. During

William Willis
Last updated: Jul 31, 2020 | Jan 27, 2010

To what extent were Wall Street’s largest firms willing to sacrifice their own skin to fix the economy they helped topple? Well, not much of one.

During today’s House hearing on AIG’s bailout, a central focus was on why AIG’s counterparties — including giants like Goldman Sachs — were paid in full rather than being asked to take a pay cut, considering the degree of the taxpayer-funded intervention (particularly since no less an authority than Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has said that those payments were insignificant to the goal of rescuing the larger economy).

Today, Geithner said that officials at the New York Federal Reserve, which Geithner headed at the time, tried to negotiate with those counterparties in an attempt to have them accept less than 100 cents on the dollar.

“Relatively quickly, and not unexpectedly, we discovered that most firms would not, on any condition, provide such a concession,” Geithner said. “One said that it was willing, but only if everybody else would agree to equal concessions on their prices.”

Later in the hearing, Neil Barofsky, special inspector general of the Wall Street bailout, revealed that the one volunteer (of eight counterparties) was UBS, the Zurich-based financial giant. Asked by Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) why UBS might have been willing to make that sacrifice, Barofsky speculated that the firm probably simply recognized that the American taxpayers “had taken the global economy on its back.”

The question is: Why didn’t the other seven firms recognize that as well?

William Willis | William Willis is a freelance writer and social media manager who specializes in assisting finance professionals and Fintech entrepreneurs in growing their online audience and attracting more paying customers. William worked as a bank teller and virtual assistant for financial firms in the United States and the United Kingdom for six years before beginning her writing career. William is a strong force in the workplace, inspiring others to work hard and excel with her optimistic attitude and boundless energy. He enjoys hiking, crocheting, and playing video games with her grandchildren in her spare time.


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