Bernanke ‘Welcomes’ a ‘Full Review’ of AIG Bailouts

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Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Last week, in response to the surfacing of certain e-mails that revealed the New York Fed instructed AIG to keep quiet the details of their decision to fully reimburse banks that purchased credit-default swaps from the insurer to the tune of $13 billion — without, as Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein confirmed during the Financial Crisis hearings last week, even bringing up the possibility of a discount on behalf of the taxpayers — the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has subpoenaed all documents related to the matter for review in advance of their grilling of former NY Fed president Tim Geithner next week. In a letter to the committee today, Fed chairman Ben Bernanke said he "welcomed" the committee's attention.

Not that he had any other choice:


To afford the public the most complete possible understanding of our decisions and actions in this matter, and to provide a comprehensive response to questions that have been raised by members of Congress, the Federal Reserve would welcome a full review by GAO of all aspects of our involvement in the extension of credit to AIG. GAO is authorized to conduct this review under its current authority (31 USC 714(e)).

The Federal Reserve will make available to the GAO all records and personnel necessary to conduct this review. Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

Seriously, if Congress wants to go through 50 boxes of e-mails, including ones in which staff members debate where to order Chinese from, then be Bernanke's guest. As for Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, while he has not yet sent out a Hallmark card welcoming the House into his Underoos, one could take this gesture to mean that he too feels he has nothing to hide, and that he has a perfectly good explanation for why he didn't know what the hell was going on in his own damn office. Either that, or he already has a stint on I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here lined up, and can therefore no longer be bothered.

Letter to the U.S. Government Accountability Office regarding AIG [Federal Reserve]