Did The US Government Sanction The Liquidation Of Lehman Brothers?
Yesterday we described in extensive detail just how on September 10, 2008, by way of a glaringly erroneous margin call, either purposefully or by accident JP Morgan managed to extract over $250 million in variation margin cash from Lehman, which may well have been the catalyst for the end of Dick Fuld's megabank as it precipitated several other multi-billion margin calls from both JPM and other banks, ultimate;y leading to Lehman's liquidation filing five days later.
JPM naturally pleaded innocence and attributed everything to an error committed by an unnamed back-office margin clerk: after all, a mandated hit on a competitor would be not only illegal, but also would involve conspiracy reaching to the highest echelons of government, as Hank Paulson (and to a lesser extent Bernanke) would have had to bless the launch of a raid as brazen as one taking down one of America's largest investment banks from within the US.
Needless to say, anyone who accused the US government of engaging in this level of criminal activity would be immediately branded a conspiracy theorist and ostracized from polite social circles in perpetuity.
But what if said "speculation" emerged not from the depths of some fringe tin-foil operation, but from the sovereign wealth fund of the United Arab Emirates, the Abu Dhabi Investment Council, one of the world's largest sovereign wealth investors and petrodollar recyclers. Surely they can't be branded tin foil? After all they are "very serious people" who manage hundreds of billions.
We ask for the simple reason that this is precisely what happened, as we learn courtesy of Wikileaks-leaked cable 08ABUDHABI1287, UAE VIEWS ON GLOBAL FINANCIAL TURMOIL, describing the meeting of then Treasury Deputy Secretary Kimmitt and Ambassador Olson with officials from the highest branches of Abu Dhabi's top financial organizations.
S E C R E T ABU DHABI 001287
TREASURY FOR D/S KIMMITT, U/S LEVEY, U/S MCCORMICK
NSC FOR DPRICE
STATE FOR EB
E.O. 12958: DNG: CO 11/10/2032
TAGS: AE ECON IR
SUBJECT: UAE VIEWS ON GLOBAL FINANCIAL TURMOIL
Classified By: Ambassador Olson for reasons 1.4 b and d.
¶1. (C) Summary. On 27 and 28 October 2008, Treasury Deputy Secretary Kimmitt and Ambassador Olson met with officials from the UAE Central Bank, UAE Ministry of Finance and Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth funds. Kimmitt discussed the USG response to the global financial turmoil and prospects for the U.S. economy, solicited input on the regional implications, stressed U.S. commitment to open investment principles, encouraged continued vigilence with respect to Iran, and assured that transition planning was underway at the Treasury Department to ensure a smooth handoff to the next administration. End Summary.
Lehman Collapse Rattles Abu Dhabi
¶2. (C) D/S KIMMITT DESCRIBED U.S. STEPS TO PRESERVE STABILITY IN THE FINANCIAL SECTOR. ABU DHABI INVESTMENT COUNCIL (ADIC) OFFICIALS QUESTIONED KIMMITT ABOUT THE USG DECISION TO ALLOW THE FAILURE OF U.S. INVESTMENT BANK LEHMAN BROTHERS. ADIC MANAGING DIRECTOR KHALIFA AL KINDI REPEATED SPECULATION THAT LEHMAN'S COLLAPSE WAS PART OF A DEAL WITH THE U.S. CONGRESS, PAVING THE WAY FOR THE $770 BILLION EESA PACKAGE. KIMMITT EXPLAINED THAT THERE WAS NO BUYER FOR LEHMAN AS THERE WAS FOR BEAR STEARNS, AND THAT AT THE TIME TREASURY LACKED THE AUTHORITY TO INJECT CAPITAL OR TAKE OTHER STEPS. (COMMENT: ADIC'S DIRECT AND SUSTAINED QUESTIONING ON THE LEHMAN BROTHER'S COLLAPSE SUGGESTS THAT THE SWF LIKELY SUSTAINED LOSSES FROM HOLDING LEHMAN DEBT INSTRUMENTS. END NOTE.)
Curiously, both "explanations" are wrong, as by now everyone knows that Barclays was an interested buyer in Lehman and would have engaged in a wholesale transaction had it gotten the guaranteed blessings of either the US government or the crown (instead of simply buying just the North American brokerage out of bankruptcy a few short days after the Chapter 7 filing), and furthermore we know that the US Treasury had every authority to inject capital and take "other steps" as confirmed by the subsequent bailouts of AIG and, to a lesser extent, Citigroup.
After all: the US was just getting warmed up.
So why use lies as justification for the inaction that did indeed "pave way" for Hank Paulson's theatrical demand for a blank check in Congress justified by a three page term sheet? Could it be that it is precisely because the US government did indeed sanction the "hit" on Lehman, and JPM's escalating rounds of margin calls was the "weapon" used to take out the offending bank?
Alas, with such "in-depth investigative journalism" as Andrew Sorkin's very much retroactively pseudo-fictional "TBTF" narrative of events, one will never know what really happened in those days before Lehman's collapse unleashed the biggest bank profit bonanza and money printing, wealth transfer orgy in history.
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