Hank Paulson Tipped Off The Goldman-Led "Plunge Protection Team" About Fannie Bankruptcy 7 Weeks In Advance

Tyler Durden's picture

Today, BusinessWeek's Michael Serrill and Jonathan Neumann have released a blockbuster report based on a FOIA response by the Treasury, which proves that in America rules are only for little people, that this country has been a banana republic for years, that Animal Farm was spot on, and gives excruciating detail of how Hank Paulson tipped off a select group of Goldman diaspora hedge fund managers about the eventual failure of Fannie and Freddie 7 weeks ahead of this information becoming public knowledge. The report basically is a summary of a meeting that took place at the offices of Eton Mindich's Eton Park headquarters on July 21, 2008, 7 days after his famous '“If you have a bazooka, and people know you have it, you're not likely to take it out," speech and 7 weeks before both GSEs effectively filed for bankruptcy and were put into conservatorship. Now if it only ended there it would have been fine - a case of potential criminal collusion between the government (although nothing specific against Paulson as he didn't actually trade: he just made sure his former Goldman colleagues made money), and the 0.00001% in the face of a few multi-billionaires who most certainly did trade on material non-public information sourced by Hank. Where it however gets worse is when one considers the actual role of one Eric Mindich in the hierarchy of the Asset Managers' committee of the President's Working Group on Capital Markets, better known of course as the PPT: a topic we discussed first back in September 2009 when we asked "What Is Goldman Alum Eric Mindich's Role As Chair Of The Asset Managers' Committee Of The President's Working Group?" Back then we did not get an answer. Luckily, courtesy of a few answered FOIA requests, some real investigative journalism, and not reporting for the sake of brown-nosing just so one can get soundbites for their next name dropping "blockbuster" and straight to HBO movie, we are starting to get the full picture of just how high in US government the Goldman Sachs controlled "crony capitalist" adminsitration truly runs.

Before we get into the details of Mr Mindich's curious relationship with the government, here is the gist of the BusinessWeek piece, which as noted focuses on Paulson who "said he had erred by not punishing Bear Stearns shareholders more severely. The secretary, then 62, went on to describe a possible scenario for placing Fannie and Freddie into “conservatorship” -- a government seizure designed to allow the firms to continue operations despite heavy losses in the mortgage markets."

The gathering comprised some of Wall Street's most storied investors. Mindich, a former chief strategy officer of New York- based Goldman Sachs, started Eton Park in 2004 with $3.5 billion, at the time one of the biggest hedge-fund launches ever. [Dinakar] Singh, a former head of Goldman's proprietary-trading desk, also began his fund in 2004, in partnership with private- equity firm Texas Pacific Group Ltd. Lone Pine's [Stephen] Mandel worked as a retail analyst at Goldman before joining Julian Robertson's Tiger Management LLC, one of the most successful hedge funds of the 1980s and 1990s. He started his own firm in 1997. [Daniel] Och was co-head of U.S. equity trading at Goldman before founding Och-Ziff in 1994. The publicly listed firm managed $28.9 billion in November. One other Goldman Sachs alumnus was at the meeting: Frank Brosens, founder and principal of Taconic Capital Advisors LP, who worked at Goldman as an arbitrageur and who was a protege of Robert Rubin, who went on to become Treasury secretary.

In other words the point of the meeting was nothing short of the former Goldman CEO telling all his former Goldman colleagues just what he was planning on doing in his capacity as Treasury Secretary.

Others also benefited:

Non-Goldman Sachs alumni who attended included short seller James Chanos of Kynikos Associates Ltd., who helped uncover the Enron Corp. accounting fraud; GSO Capital Partners LP co-founder Bennett Goodman, who sold his firm to Blackstone Group LP in early 2008; Roger Altman, chairman and founder of New York investment bank Evercore Partners Inc.; and Steven Rattner, a co-founder of private-equity firm Quadrangle Group LLC, who went on to serve as head of the U.S. government's Automotive Task Force. Another person in attendance: Michele Davis, then-assistant secretary for public affairs at the Treasury Department, who now represents Paulson as a managing partner at public relations firm Brunswick Group Inc. In an e-mail response to Bloomberg Markets, she referred all questions to Paulson's book on the financial crisis, “On the Brink” (Business Plus, 2010), which makes no mention of the Eton Park meeting.

No mention? What a shocker. Perhaps it may have to do with this:

The fund manager who described the meeting left after coffee and called his lawyer. The attorney's quick conclusion: Paulson's talk was material nonpublic information, and his client should immediately stop trading the shares of Washington- based Fannie and McLean, Virginia-based Freddie.


The manager who described the Eton Park meeting says he also discussed it with an investigator from the FCIC. The discussion was confirmed by a former FCIC employee.

Of course, it only means that one would not have to cover shorts on "existing positions." The market's shift from a NYSE to OTC Pink Sheets listed stock would do it for them.

That manager says he ended up profiting from his Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac positions because he was already short the stocks. On his lawyer's advice, he stopped covering his short positions and rode Fannie and Freddie shares all the way to the bottom.

Naturally, the one defense of this criminal disclosure comes from a former Fed president:

“It seems to me, you've got to cut the guy some slack, even if he tipped his hand,” says William Poole, a former president of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. “How do you prepare the market for the fact that policy has changed without triggering the very crisis that you're trying to avoid? What is he supposed to say without misleading these people?”

So going back to Eric Mindich. Why is he so special? Presenting Exhibit A, the members of the Asset Managers' Committee of the President's Working Group on Capital Markets, aka the PPT:

Just what is this curious committee consisting of all key hedge fund managers?

The Asset Managers’ Committee and the Investors’ Committee are private sector committees established by the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets (“PWG”). The first task of the Committees was to develop and publicly release best practices so that market participants may enhance investor protection and systemic risk safeguards consistent with PWG principles and guidelines. The final reports are available through the homepage of the respective Committee.

In other words, these are the hegde funders who comprise the Plunge Protection Team.

But this will be nothing new to our readers. Here we refer to our article from back in September 2009:


On September 25, 2007, the President's Working Group on Financial Markets, better known as the Plunge Protection Team, announced the formation of two private sector committees, one comprising of Asset Managers and the other, of Investors. It is the first one that is more interesting, as the committee is chaired by one Eric Mindich, best known for his Goldman Sachs wunderkind status, who at 27, was the youngest Goldmanite ever to be promoted to partner. In 2004, Eric split off from Goldman, nonetheless maintaining a favorable relationship with the mothership through its "Fund of Funds" division (we jest), and its various Prime Brokerage client platforms, by starting Eton Park, which with its starting capital of $3 billion, is still likely a record of highest AUM at a fund's inception.

So what was the justification for the creation of this specific committee. From its Mission Statement:




Mission Statement


The Asset Managers’ Committee is comprised of representatives from a broad array of asset managers. Its purpose is to facilitate an exchange of information between the alternative asset management community and the agencies comprising the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets (“PWG”). It will be a standing committee, and its members serve at the behest of the committee’s chairperson for three-year terms. Members may be reappointed for additional terms. It is expected that the committee will develop best practice guidelines, as described below, and also subsequently review and reassess, and if necessary revise, those guidelines.


The first task of the committee is to develop detailed guidelines that would define “bestpractices” for the alternative asset management industry, including practices regarding information, valuation, and risk management systems. They would foster efforts to enhance market discipline, mitigate systemic risk, augment regulatory safeguards regarding investor protection, and complement regulatory efforts to enhance market integrity. These guidelines would review and build on existing industry work and the principles and guidelines released in February 2007 by the PWG, particularly Principle 9, where possible. The initial focus will be on practices for hedge fund managers.

Yet less than a year later, the economy and capital markets collapsed, forcing Hank Paulson to launch an  unprecedented sequence of events to prevent the full meltdown of the Western World. Indeed, the same Hank Paulson who one year prior to Lehman's collapse had this to say regarding the Asset Managers' committee:

"These groups are drawn from among the industry's finest in their respective areas," said Treasury Secretary and PWG Chairman  Henry M. Paulson, Jr. "The market will benefit if experienced participants develop and implement best practices."

It is safe to say that whatever the committee's true mission was, its stated one was an unmitigated failure. For reference purposes, the full committee consists of the following:

  • Eric Mindich, Chair, Eton Park Capital Management
  • Anne Casscells. AETOS Capital, LLC
  • James S. Chanos, Kynikos Associates LP
  • Anne Dinning, D. E. Shaw & Co., L.P.
  • Jonathon S. Jacobson, Highfields Capital Management
  • Marc Lasry,Avenue Capital Group
  • Edward A. Mulé, Silver Point Capital
  • Daniel S. Och, Och-Ziff Capital Management
  • Daniel H. Stern, Reservoir Capital Group
  • William Von Mueffling, Cantillon Capital
  • Michael Vranos, Ellington Management Group LLC

Pardon our hypocrisy, but virtually all of these funds (with the likely exception of Kynikos) would have gotten destroyed had Bernanke, the Chairman of the PWG and the President, decided not to intervene. Furthermore, as is well know, the President's Working Group on Financial Markets has long been not only the front for the elusive Plunge Protection Team, but is an organization this is so wrapped in secrecy that not even minutes of its meetings are kept as John Crudele of the NY Post found out post his US Treasury FOIA submission. Yet the Asset Managers' Committee seems to be in that gray area where it is not totally consumed by the PWG, and thus it is possible that a record of its actions may actually not disappear into the void once any market critical decision is made.

We concluded our article from over two years ago as follows:

Zero Hedge is submitting a FOIA request to the US Treasury to disclose any and all information, records, emails, telephone conversations, with and amongst members of the committee and specifically focusing on former Goldman Sachs employee and Chair of the Asset Managers' Committee Eric Mindich, at and around the time of the Lehman collapse. We expect nothing but heavily redacted pages at best. Yet with recent scrutiny of latent Goldman interests in virtually every segment of the executive branch, Zero Hedge does find it oddly convenient, that in those dark (for Goldman Sachs) days, the two key people making capital markets related decisions were yet another two Goldman Sachs alumni: Hank Paulson and Eric Mindich. And we believe in the spirit of fake transparency so heavily endorsed by the President, it is worth at least attempting to get some additional information on the deliberations by the proxy entities that truly run this country's economy and capital markets.

We are happy that Bloomberg was more successful in getting a FOIA response than Zero Hedge. We urge Messrs Serill and Neumann to enjoin our request for data on what Paulson may have leaked to his Goldman buddies in advance of the Lehman collapse. Because maybe, just maybe, if the Goldman-run Plunge Protection Team let Lehman fail, it was under direct instructions from Hank Paulson... just as he tipped Mindich et al to the GSEs failure. And all those rumors about a directed run on the bank (whose failure benefited none other more than Goldman Sachs) coordinated by none other than the man in charge of it all, will suddenly come true.

Because we have a sinking feeling we will have been proven absolutely spot on in our "paranoid conspiracy theorism" all over again...

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TruthInSunshine's picture



Don Corleone <3 Hank Paulson & wonders how he does it.

Hank Paulson heard of this admiration, and told the Don that "Moe Green was a great man."


Mr Lennon Hendrix's picture

Just hang him and be done with it

rajat_bhatia's picture

I was wondering why Tyler didnt pounce on this report earlier. It enthralls your audience when we hear Goldman's molestation tales

Harlequin001's picture

Well I think you should have given him immunity from prosecution, in line with his request...

It's the only way he could have done a proper job...

and so rests the case for the defence M'Lord...

BaBaBouy's picture

The only missing piece of the Puzzle is ...


How many Trillions of OTC Paper have they spent controlling (Down) the Gold Price?

Is it 1, 2 or 5 Trillion ???


We'll find out soon enough.

Oh regional Indian's picture

Baba, the longer supression has been in SIlver.

Don't forget Silver. It's in the veins of this golden mess. ;-)


The Plan Updated

Mr Lennon Hendrix's picture


Yes she who has been blocked in the cave

We who have never forgotten

Have found her, and will free her

strannick's picture

Hank Paulson, scummy banker, corrupt politician

BaBaBouy's picture

Yes of course Silver also Maniped, poor mans Gold, and always goes along with Gold.



60 Mins reported a while back, Paulson is an avid  "Snake Collector".


Popo's picture

In the immortal words of NEO:




Fukushima Sam's picture

I love the smell of fried squid in the morning.

Troll Magnet's picture

fuck all y'all.  i wanna be in the next meeting!  how many people do i need to rob in order to join the club?

redpill's picture

"It's a big fuckin' club, and you ain't in it."


--George Carlin

Troll Magnet's picture

george carlin, he was the best.  we should really require all americans to watch and listen to his monologues.  seriously.  

nope-1004's picture

Buying silver is a 100% vote against the banking cartel and their ways.

Which is why I bought LOTS.  Fuck these crooks.  They'll all end up pissing on each other as the ship sinks anyway, and I want to be as far away as possible.


JPM Hater001's picture

Why is everyone hating on Hank.  I mean reall, if you think about it if the big one had come in 2008 I would have been totally taken.  Now I am much more prepared.

12ToothAssassin's picture

True, it was rather thoughful of Mr Hanky to give us a warning shot. I stay warm at night knowing he always acts in my best interest.

Amish Hacker's picture

Immunity from prosecution was foremost on Paulson's mind. Remember the wording of the Paulson Plan:

Sec. 8. Review.

Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.

That's the kind of CYA language someone would use if he was sure that what he was about to do was illegal.

In a perfect world (and we're getting there), nothing Goldman does would ever be reviewable by anyone.


max2205's picture

So this is how it goes. Tell the world one thing and tell insiders the truth. Wait a bit then tell the world what is really gonna happen.

Rinse and repeat till insiders kill those who don't know. What a fucking joke this country is. Fuck 'em!!!


Voodoo Economics's picture

I was the first one he called, huh huh! You outsider peons just wish you were in the GS family where we intend to keep it.


Harlequin001's picture

Nope, I've got gold old stick. I couldn't give a shit...

Voodoo Economics's picture

Give us a few more months and we'll have this FOIA issue taken care of so you can't mess with the family no more.


Harlequin001's picture

that's ok, I already have gold stashed overseas in a foreign vault.

Let me know when you're done, so I can call someone who's bothered...

bullion bugs rule KO...

ltsgt1's picture

Makes me sick too and I'm losing faith. It's becoming increasing clear that boiler room operations are illegal only for the ones with no political collection and mafiaso types. Mainstream financial media is assisting such boiler room goons with unconfirmed rumors, moving markets in a way that should bring about serious scrutiny.

NEOSERF's picture

I agree, the point of the stock market for most folks was to put your hard earned money into something that could reliably (+11% every year) help you in retirement.  Not that it was different in the past but it has gotten so far away from something that reflects reality vs. the shadows that it is a HUGE risk to be outside the circle.  0.1% yields on savings suck so gold is really the only option but that like all the other commodities is manipulated badly as well...

LongBalls's picture

If you play in these markets you MUST know that the deck is stacked against you. Play if you must, but at your own risk.

Or... buy gold and silver.

Jay Gould Esq.'s picture

I was unaware that Chanos was PPT. Indeed, that clarifies the perspective regarding his unique and uncanny shorting abilities.

"I don't throw darts at a board. I bet on sure things. Read Sun-tzu, The Art of War. Every battle is won before it is ever fought."

- "Gordon Gekko"

Harlequin001's picture

Tell that to the Brits, They've managed to pull some stunning defeats from certain victories, and that takes real skill...

moondog's picture

and a certain degree of luck...just ask the Spanish

Don Birnam's picture


Considering this perspective, "abilities." Lest we forget, Mr. Chanos is also a CNBC "regular" -- a common denominator regarding the elite, "A-Team" cadre.

"I love it when a plan comes together !"

-- Col. Hannibal Smith ( Ret. )

Duuude's picture


Geithner too


As for our current Treasury Secretary?  Well in his last role as head of the most powerful regional bank - he helped grease the skids for the current system.

  • When Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner was president of the New York Fed beginning in 2003, he worried the Fed wasn't close enough to big investors, (that line is so open to interpretation it's beyond the pale) especially financial firms like hedge funds that operated outside of the regulated banking industry. He set up a new staff position to coordinate private meetings with hedge fund managers and other Wall Street power brokers. (what a gentleman - with kind moves like that I bet the power players would like to see him in say a role as.... Secretary of the Treasury someday)



dcb's picture

Hello, why do you think Obama got appointed and I am sure he got appointed on the advice of wall street types.

Sunset chaser's picture

Ever wonder why our schools don't have more classes stressing the Constitution?

Ever wonder if any of our politicos or banksters could pass even a simple test on the principles and amendments of the Constitution?

Or why we don't require them to?

Troll Magnet's picture

no.  i was educated NOT to wonder.  the constitution?  WTF is that?  can i short it?

hedgeless_horseman's picture



Ever wonder why our schools don't have more classes stressing the Constitution?

Robert Heinlein sure did.

Starship Troopers is a political essay as well as a novel. Large portions of the book take place in classrooms, with Rico and other characters engaged in debates with their History and Moral Philosophy teachers, who are often thought to be speaking in Heinlein's voice.




Good reading on this topic as well as on suffrage.

ucsbcanuck's picture

Thanks hedgeless - the minute everyone hears Starship Troopers they think of the ridiculous movie. They don't realise that there are some deep and profound questions in the novel.

Just like Contact - Carl Sagan intended that the novel be deeply philosophical. Cue Hollywood to dumb it down for the sheeple.

Iwanttoknow's picture

Duude,You posted before me.we should never forget him.it was Geithner who sold hank the idea to shaft us,the taxpayers.

mac768's picture

... and we are the 99.999% who pay with our taxes for the shenanigans once it does not "work"

Arthor Bearing's picture

I'm as conservative as they come, but they shouldn't touch social security or any other entitlements until the government stops giving welfare to mil/billionaire hedge fund managers, bankers and insurers (including the "Obamacare" health insurance corporate welfare). "Save the economy" and get yourself on the cover of fawning magazines by making your friends rich, how noble.

DaveyJones's picture

they'll touch it even in its private parts until the little guys can afford to buy a lobbyist or borrow a pitchfork

JPM Hater001's picture

If you are conservative you should try libertarianism.  Even less to worry about.

Arthor Bearing's picture

I believe in a weak central government unless and until I am in charge of it!

blindfaith's picture

"Entitlements"  oh, you mean the money we have put into Social Security all our lives and we are entitled to draw on when we reach legal age?

Seems to me, as a conservative as well, the ONLY government program that has not been corrupted by Wall Street is Social Security!  But wait, They will after the next election.

Now ...all the welfare given to those you mention has become the entitlement program that the GOP intents to protect, now that the DNC has paved the way.


Arthor Bearing's picture

You're right, but that social security fee we were forced to pay has been stolen from the trust and replaced by IOU's, kind of like the suitcase full of cash in Dumb & Dumber. So it was essentially just an extra tax all along, because that money isn't there any more. We've already lost that battle.

Believe me, social security is on its way out just like the entitlements.

Taint Boil's picture

Well at least he didn’t commit welfare fraud, because that would get you some jail time.

Debt-Is-Not-Money's picture

"Just hang him and be done with it"

Just make sure the knot is in back of his neck and let him down slowly- it should take 20-30 minutes. A nice touch would be a slightly windy day!

Hang 'em high!

Then go get all the others rinse and repeat...

11b40's picture

Hang him and Corzine togethger...one rope, double noose.

If anyone wants to actually DO something that may have some small effect, act on this:

Dear Ron,

It's no surprise that polls show our faith in Congress has fallen to near all-time lows. Our elected officials spend too much time rubbing shoulders with lobbyists and catering to the whims of special interests, all while our country is in serious economic trouble.

But they're not just wining and dining with fat cat corporate leaders and their hired guns. A 60 Minutes piece that aired this month (1) showed that members of Congress can use the non-public information that they have access to as part of their jobs to make investments and stock market moves. It's called political insider trading – and it ought to be a crime. Our representatives shouldn't be able to amass personal fortunes by trading on non-public knowledge that could affect the future price of stocks.

The STOCK (Stop Trading On Congressional Knowledge) Act, which has been introduced in both the House and Senate and has bipartisan support, would outlaw insider trading by members of Congress.

Tell your Representatives and Senators that you want to see this bill come up for a vote before they adjourn in December!

So why don't insider trading regulations apply to Congress today? Because under current law, insider trading is defined as the buying or selling of securities or commodities based on non-public information in violation of confidentiality – either to the issuing company or the source of information. Since Congressional officials do not owe a duty of confidentiality to these companies, they can't be held liable for insider trading. But they do owe a duty to us, their constituents.

It's not hard to imagine a situation where a member of Congress could know whether a piece of legislation, or even an amendment, will pass or fail -- and how that action could impact a particular company or even an entire industry. The temptation to use that information for personal gain could be tremendous.

That's why the STOCK Act (H.R.1148 / S.1871) is so crucial. It would make clear that Members of Congress -- and their staffers -- could not use non-public information gained on the job to make investments or trades for their own personal benefit.

The bill is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee this Thursday.(2) That's a good first step, but we can't let it be the last step.

Tell Congress that the STOCK Act must come up for a vote before they adjourn for 2011.


Bob Edgar
and the rest of the team at Common Cause

(1) Watch the 60 Minutes report.
(2) The hearing on Thursday, December 1 at 2:30pm will be live streamed. Mark your calendar with this link to watch.