“The riskiest assets we had, our CDOs, weren’t even on our balance sheet,” Merrill Chief Executive Officer John Thain said on a June 11 conference call with investors. Merrill would have to provide $15 billion in financing for CDOs and related obligations under a “severe stress scenario,” according to a Merrill regulatory filing published in May.

Bloomberg’s Jon Weil, as usual, was onto it early. His columns shouldn’t be the last word on this kind of thing, but the first.

The Goldman/AIG action offers a window onto Wall Street’s pre-crash period, which involved mammoth, unexplored and highly questionable transactions that go beyond even the likes of Goldman Sachs and AIG. My sense is that readers have only begun to understand this period because the press has only begun to explore it.

Dean Starkman Dean Starkman runs The Audit, CJR's business section, and is the author of The Watchdog That Didn't Bark: The Financial Crisis and the Disappearance of Investigative Journalism (Columbia University Press, January 2014).

Follow Dean on Twitter: @deanstarkman.