As we discussed with Josh Rosner and will be writing about same next week, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and Fed Chairman Bernanke think they are driving this process, but in fact the markets are setting the agenda. Either we act now to deal with AIG and C and take these names off the table before the other zombies arrive for the dance party, or we risk being overwhelmed. If we have a choice between preserving the credit standing of the US Treasury and flushing AIG, C and every other CDS counterparty on the planet, we'll take the latter every time.
Indeed, yesterday we were slumming at the Four Seasons in New York. Among the dinosaurs we observed grazing in the tall grass of this Midtown Manhattan refuge for the transactional class was former C director Robert Rubin, former New York Fed Chairman Pete Peterson and Treasury Secretary Geithner, who apparently was there to get new instructions from his sponsors.
Before Geithner arrived for lunch, Peterson reportedly asked one NY real estate mogul: "How much of that toxic paper is there?" Now we may know where Geithner gathers his market intelligence -- over a luncheon table in New York with his owners. Next time we are going to bring the flip-cam.
But isn't it nice that the man who wants to take our Medicare and Social Security (so we can see it go down the tubes in the market, I guess) has such good relationships with his employees!