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Had the U.S. government not taken action to bail out American International Group, it would have proven to be an economic catastrophe for the nation, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and his predecessor, Henry Paulson, both insisted before a skeptical congressional committee last week.

Their comments came at a hearing before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which has questioned all elements of Federal Reserve and U.S. Treasury actions to supply billions of dollars to bail out the insurance conglomerate and pay its bank trading partners in full for claims against depreciated assets.

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