A key question at the heart of the controversial bailout of AIG is just how much money the government lost. The Federal Reserve and Treasury Department have worked to keep that number secret and to conceal who was on the winning end.
An unredacted document obtained by the Huffington Post shows the damage in detail.
The list was produced as part of a congressional investigation led by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee into the federal bailout of AIG.
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York, then led by now-Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, purchased a slew of souring assets from the world's biggest banks for 100 cents on the dollar in November 2008. A scathing report by a government watchdog held Geithner responsible for the overpayments.
The New York Fed initially pressured AIG to keep the list hidden from investors, regulators and the public. When it was eventually filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the SEC allowed the Fed and AIG to keep the details secret. A heavily-redacted version was made public last March.
The document is part of 250,000 pages of internal documents on the AIG deliberations subpoenaed by the oversight committee. It lists the toxic mortgage bonds that banks insured through AIG.
Those insurance contracts, called credit default swaps, are what the New York Fed ultimately took off AIG's books, paying the banks 100 cents on the dollar for toxic mortgage bonds -- home mortgages that were bundled together and securitized. The banks could never have gotten anywhere near such a generous deal on the open market, so the move served essentially as a direct subsidy to those banks from taxpayers.
Up until now, taxpayers had no way to know exactly what they owned. They knew they owned a certain amount of assets, but none of the details: which bundles of mortgages it purchased from AIG; how the banks were valuing those mortgages; how much collateral they had demanded from AIG on those securities; or which bank bundled those mortgages into securities.
Rep. Darrell Issa of California, the top ranking Republican on the oversight committee, told HuffPost that he was not persuaded by government and Fed arguments that the transactions should be kept secret.
"Just because the government happens to own the bonds, which means--by the way, they don't have to be sold at all until they are worth what we want them to be worth--that somehow they have to be kept a secret," Issa said during a break in the today's AIG oversight hearing, where Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner testified about his role in the bailout as then-head of the New York Fed.
Issa said that the public had a right to see the document. "I mean, think about it: What the government owns it can keep as long as it wants. It would be like saying you can't appraise federal land. Why? It is one of those things that's outrageous. We know we paid a hundred percent for them. We know who got the money. This document shows who ultimately were the beneficiaries. And we believe since that they've asked to have it locked up until 2018 - and nobody today defended that--that it's time to release that," Issa said.
"The way the AIG bailout was engineered was to specifically benefit Goldman Sachs and its trading partners," said Janet Tavakoli, a Chicago-based derivatives expert and founder of Tavakoli Structured Finance. "Goldman's past and present officers used crony capitalism to put their own interests ahead of the public.
"The suppression of the details of the [credit default swap] trades protected Goldman Sachs and its trading partners," said Tavakoli, who's examined Goldman's credit default swap arrangements with AIG. "The $182 billion bailout overall kept AIG alive, and its trading partners, including Goldman Sachs, benefited from the funds made available to the securities lending transactions and other subsequent trading transactions."
Goldman's bonds -- now owned by taxpayers -- are presently worth just 75 cents on the dollar, according to the influential financial blog Zero Hedge.