Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Insurance collapse, to go along with banking collapse

Here is a good commentary from David Smick, published by WaPo on March 10. You don't want to read this before bed, though, or you can be assured of nightmares (complete with Stockard Channing voice-overs).
In addition, Geithner worries that because the troubled insurance giant American International Group (AIG) is a conduit for the banks' use of credit default swaps, a collapse of AIG (as an unintended consequence of dismantling the big banks) could be catastrophic. AIG's more than 300 million terrified holders of insurance-related investments and pension funds, who have investments totaling $20 trillion (U.S. GDP is $14 trillion), could suddenly rush for redemptions -- the equivalent of a run on a bank. Geithner would face a worldwide insurance collapse to accompany his global banking collapse.
Smick recommends a "world-class problem-solver who is not from Wall Street as [Obama's] bank workout czar, " and suggests James Baker, Bill Bradley (ah... no), or George Mitchell. I think he's right that Geitner doesn't seem quite right for the job and further it's too much to do on top of regular Treasury Dept duties. But who in their right mind would take the job?

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