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Opening Bell: 03.16.09

AIG Releases Counterparty Names (Bloomberg)
AIG came up with a list of counterparty names over the weekend, and there's a storm being raised about the amount of money owed Goldman given the Paulson connection. I can't say I think it's entirely bullshit; mere coincidence is seldom so. On the upside, AIG paying out its obligations is actually what the money is there for - so that's a step in the right direction.
"Banks that bought credit-default swaps or traded securities with AIG got $22.4 billion in collateral, $27.1 billion in payments from a U.S. entity to retire the derivatives, and $43.7 billion tied to the securities-lending program, AIG said yesterday in a statement. States led by California and Virginia got $12.1 billion tied to guaranteed investment contracts. "
In related news, CNBC has it that AIG paid out $165MM in bonuses, and people are pissed, damn it. I say we find a rope, some kerosene, a little saltpetre, and a two liter of Mountain Dew.
Bernanke Says 'Biggest Risk' Is Shortage of 'Political Will' (Bloomberg)

"The biggest risk is that, you know, we don't have the political will," Bernanke said in a taped interview on CBS Corp.'s "60 Minutes" program that aired yesterday. "Recovery is not going to happen until the financial markets and the banks are stabilized," and the government's plan is "going to take some patience. It's going to take some support," he said.
Bernanke's comments signal he is prepared for criticism from lawmakers over any request for more aid to beleaguered financial companies, including additions to the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said this month the U.S. bank-rescue plan may need another infusion of taxpayer money.

Goldman Considered Buying Wachovia (FT)
"Goldman Sachs engaged in talks to buy regional lender Wachovia during the tumultuous weekend after Lehman Brothers collapsed in September, in a deal that would have given the quintessential Wall Street bank a prominent position on main street.
But the potential takeover, as well as a mooted deal that weekend for Morgan Stanley to merge with either JP­Morgan Chase or Citigroup, was abandoned just before the Federal Reserve allowed Goldman and Morgan Stanley to turn into bank holding companies and access government funds, according to people close to the matter."
IRS Seeks $227MM From Stanford (Reuters)
Note to criminals: if you're going to defraud investors of billions, give the government their fair share.
"The U.S. Internal Revenue Service has asked a judge to let it to continue to seek unpaid back taxes from Allen Stanford, the billionaire Texan accused of an $8 billion fraud by U.S. regulators, court documents show.
Stanford and his wife Susan owe the U.S. government $226.6 million in unpaid federal income taxes between 1999 and 2003, the IRS said in a filing with a federal court in Dallas on March 13."
Chuck Norris Sues Penguin (Reuters)
Norris is in a dire battle with the nefarious bastards at Penguin publishing over whether his tears actually cure cancer. Norris says it isn't so. That's bullshit and you know it Norris.
Barclays Looks To Dump iShares (WSJ)
In what could be a signal of instability (if not financial, then perhaps mental?), Barclays is looking to dump iShares for ~$5.6B.
""Barclays notes press comment regarding the potential disposal of iShares and confirms that it has held discussions with a number of potentially interested parties as part of its practice of regularly reviewing the group's portfolio of businesses," Barclays said Monday. "No decision regarding the disposal of any business has been taken by the board of Barclays."
The U.K. bank also confirmed that it is in "dialogue" with the U.K. Treasury and Financial Services Authority regarding its potential participation in the government's asset protection scheme."

Ruth In Crosshair$ (NYP)

Federal investigators are "working around the clock" to freeze the assets of mega-fraudster Bernie Madoff's wife, fearing she will try to flee the country or stash the nearly $93 million in her name beyond their reach, sources told The Post.
The Securities and Exchange Commission is working with federal prosecutors in Manhattan to prepare a filing asking a judge to formally freeze all of Ruth Madoff's assets as soon as possible.