Journalism in the Public Interest

Treasury’s ‘Point Man’ on AIG Bailout That Benefited Goldman, Owned Goldman Stock

According to the New York Times, the Treasury’s ‘point man’ on the AIG bailout, which resulted in billions of dollars for Goldman, also owned stock in the investment bank. He was also Goldman’s former CFO.


American International Group building in New York City (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Deep in an article today on the government's bailout of AIG, The New York Times cites sources saying that the Treasury Department's "point man" on AIG, Don Jester, was a former Goldman Sachs employee who owned stock in the bank even as he was making decisions on the bailout that ultimately channeled billions of taxpayer dollars to Goldman.

Owning stock in a company an official oversees typically is verboten, but because Jester was working as an outside contractor rather than an official employee, he was exempt from conflict-of interest rules.

Goldman Sachs stood to benefit from the AIG bailout because Goldman had roughly $20 billion in insurance-like credit-default swaps with AIG -- essentially bets by the investment bank that the housing market would go south. But if AIG collapsed, Goldman wouldn't be able to collect on the bets. When the government instead bailed out AIG, taxpayers paid out the swaps at full face value, and Goldman Sachs got $12.9 billion -- more than any other of AIG's customers.

Jester was Goldman's deputy CFO when he left the firm in 2005. And here's what the Times says about his investments in Goldman:

Mr. Jester, according to several people with knowledge of his financial holdings, still owned Goldman stock while overseeing Treasury's response to the A.I.G. crisis.

We contacted Jester this morning to comment on the story and confirm the stock ownership; we'll post an update when we get a response. His spokesperson, Michelle Davis, told the Times that Jester followed what the paper paraphrases as an "ethics plan to avoid conflict with all of his stock holdings." (According to a federal database search, Jester received $30,000 for six months consulting at the Treasury Department.)

Earlier this year, a Times op-ed online dubbed Jester one of the "mystery men" of the financial crisis and noted that Jester was at the center of the Treasury Department's response to AIG's impending collapse. During the chaotic two months in the fall of 2008, Timothy Geithner, then the head of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, spoke on the phone with Jester 103 times -- more than other person aside from then-Treasury Secretary Henry Pauslon. Jester relocated to AIG's offices for a period of time, the paper reported.

The government's decision to have AIG pay out Goldman and others bets at full value has been controversial. The Times said while several of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York's outside advisors recommended it force banks to take losses on their bets with AIG, Jester advocated for full repayment:

According to the documents, Mr. Jester opposed bailout structures that required the banks to return cash to A.I.G. Nothing in the documents indicates that Mr. Jester advocated forcing Goldman and the other banks to accept a discount on the deals.

As an example of the advice against paying full value for the deals, the Times cited a presentation from an advisor to the New York Fed, which outlined five reasons banks should agree to concessions. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York defended its decisions to the Times:

"This was not about the banks," said Sarah J. Dahlgren, a senior vice president for the New York Fed who oversees A.I.G. "This was about stabilizing the system by preventing the disorderly collapse of A.I.G. and the potentially devastating consequences of that event for the U.S. and global economies."

The expression “stabilizing the system by preventing the disorderly collapse” means that big businesses stay big, and smaller competitors can only grow to a certain size or fail.  Government now protects the successful against failure, denying opportunity to those who have not already made it.

We should be surprised? Who else do you think Paulson would recommend to advise recovery mechanisms for his previous and future employer? We should be a bit more humble when we refer to Karzai as corrupt.

and we’re suprised by what part of this story?

Geithner is busy distancing himself from this one

And this surprises us, why?  Just how many GS alumni or employees are involved in our federal Treasury Department, Federal Reserve, etc.?  Was it his last name that prevented Mr. J. from getting a permanent position, or was he better off as a short-term consultant who could go back into the industry (perhaps even GS) once everything “blew over”.  Too bad it didn’t blow up (i.e., TBTF bank closings) instead.


July 4, 2010, 9:41 a.m.

in what other scenario would a highly questionable transfer of $ not be the subject of a police investigation?

imagine a small town agency broker involved in using client funds to pay debts incurred by the company he represents? the sec, fbi, etc would be on top of him like a ton of bricks.

but NY fed, GS, govt officials robbing the taxpayer, that’s OK,

and arn’t you sick of hearing, “with hindsight the situation is easy to criticise”. if they are so smart why did they end up delivering such a poor service unless it was a criminal event?

On The New York Fed’s Editorial Influence Over The WSJ

Submitted by Tyler Durden on 07/05/2010 19:34 -0600

One of last year’s key pieces of financial reporting was Jon Hilsenrath’s disclosure that then-Goldman Sachs and FRBNY director Stephen Friedman was in possession of Goldman Sachs shares while holding inside information that the Fed was willing to bailout Goldman et al forever and ever, even as a waiver to allow Friedman to buy was still in process with no formal outcome, and the Goldman/FRBNY director was loading up on even more shares. As the WSJ’s Hilsenrath and Kate Kelly reported, “while it was weighing the request, Mr. Friedman bought 37,300 more Goldman shares in December. They’ve since risen $1.7 million in value.” Not a shabby profit for someone who knew the system would never put him at risk of having to disgorge ill-obtained profits while in a position so conflicted, even a Chrysler-addled supreme court justice would have no problem figuring out just how blatant the systemic abuse was. Sure enough, the reporting was of sufficiently high caliber that it garnered a finalist place in this year’s Gerald Loeb Awards (and seeing how ARS’ “Too Big To Fail” chronology-of-events-from-the-perspective-of-Wall Street won a Loeb, it tells all you all you need to know about this particular award, and we’ll leave it at that). Yet going through some of the recently made public e-mails produced on behalf of Stephen Friedman, we had a few questions as to the full independence of the WSJ when it comes to “editorial” suggestions from the Federal Reserve Board Of New York. As the below email from Fed EVP of the Communications Group, ala media liaison, Calvin Mitchell to the WSJ’s Kate Kelly demonstrates, and as the final product confirms, the Fed was quite instrumental in what quotes, tangents, implications, and story lines the WSJ was allowed and not allowed to use and pursue in framing the problem of not only Friedman’s conflict of interest, but that of the FRBNY board of directors itself. And seeing how Kelly and Hilsenrath caved in to every FRBNY editorial demand, one wonders just what the (s)quid-pro-quo for this particular form of alleged media capture may have been.

We present FRBNY-TOWNS-R1-191200/1:

more here:

This article is part of an ongoing investigation:
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