No surprise: Goldman Sachs – aka the Treasury Dept. – reports record earnings

The financial firm’s investment in the Obama campaign is certainly reaping impressive dividends. The company “generated nearly $750 million in revenue from equity underwriting, helping battered financial-services firms sell stock to meet new government capital requirements. The quarterly performance from equity underwriting was a company record, and surpassed even the heady days of the Internet bubble and the previous benchmark for such fees set in 2000.” The only difficulty the company faces is how to cover up the bonuses it will pay out as a result of all this.

For those keeping score at home here is the tip of the iceberg of Goldman alumnae now working for change in Washington:

  • Mary Schapiro, Chair, Securities and Exchange Commission
  • Gary Gensler, chair, Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
  • Lawrence Summers, Director of the White House’s National Economic Council
  • Mark Patterson, chief of staff to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner’s
  • Neel Kashkari, Treasury Dept. assistant secretary for international affairs

And, no I don’t think it would have been any different had someone else been elected.

AIG claims it is paying bonuses to retain “best and brightest talent”

“We cannot attract and retain the best and the brightest talent to lead and staff the A.I.G. businesses — which are now being operated principally on behalf of American taxpayers — if employees believe their compensation is subject to continued and arbitrary adjustment by the U.S. Treasury.” — Edward M. Liddy, government-appointed chairman of A.I.G.

Congrats to Mr. Liddy for calling the people in question “the best and the brightest” – a description famously applied to the folks who got us into Vietnam.

And what would these folks be talented at? While getting someone else to pay for bankrupting a company is quite a talent it’s not one to reward.

Lawyers at both the Treasury Department and AIG have concluded that the firm would risk a lawsuit if it scrapped the retention payments at the AIG Financial Products subsidiary, whose troublesome derivative trading nearly sank AIG. The company promised before the government started bailing out the firm in September that employees would be awarded more than $400 million in retention pay this year and next.

Which is worse – losing a lawsuit or needing around-the-clock security for all your senior executives? I’m pretty sure the phrase “hanging is too good for them” is echoing around a lot of people’s minds right now.

BTW, the $165M in bonuses is in addition to a previously scheduled $121M:

The payments to A.I.G.’s financial products unit are in addition to $121 million in previously scheduled bonuses for the company’s senior executives and 6,400 employees across the sprawling corporation. Mr. Geithner last week pressured A.I.G. to cut the $9.6 million going to the top 50 executives in half and tie the rest to performance.

Yep, more than a quarter of a billion bucks being paid to the folks who put the I in incompetent.

To quote Mr. Mencken: “Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.”

UPDATE:

In New Terror Video, AIG Demands Huge Ransom from U.S.

Shadowy Group Seeks Bonuses, Golf Retreats