Monday, October 11, 2010

Geithner's Foresight

Here's another interesting email from Lehman Weekend, which shows that Tim Geithner was anticipating the need to go to Congress for additional authorities even before the Barclays deal started to fall apart. (The email is from the FCIC's hearing binder, which unfortunately yielded very few interesting documents.)

In an email exchange between Ben Bernanke and Fed General Counsel Scott Alvarez on Saturday, September 13, in which they're discussing a scheduled conference call with other Fed Governors, Bernanke notes (emphasis mine):

However, I have learned that we may want to discuss some broader issues, e.g., should we go to Congress to ask for other authorities. We can't discuss policy issues with more than 3 Board members. [This is due to the Sunshine Act. Bernanke then suggests that Fed Governors Randall Kroszner and Elizabeth Duke hang up when the discussion turns to asking Congress for additional authorities.]
Alvarez then responds with:
That will work. To make it easier, Randy and Betsy can take a cue from Tim, who it sounds like will make a pitch for legislation.
Remember, this was before the FSA torpedoed the Barclays deal, and the working assumption at this point was that Barclays would buy Lehman, with a consortuim of Wall Street banks financing the Lehman assets that Barclays didn't want. So Geithner was anticipating that they would need to ask for additional authorities even if Lehman was ultimately saved by the Barclays/Street-consortium deal.

I'm pretty sure this makes Geithner the first official to advocate going to Congress to ask for additional authorities.

There's no larger point here. It's just interesting to note.

Bernanke-Alvarez Emails (Sept. 13, 2008)


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