That Makes Me Stabby: AIG Again

I think I just need to start covering my ears and closing my eyes anytime anything involving AIG is on the news. Yet again, they’ve managed to make me stabby. Unfortunately, their latest infraction is evidence that the very companies that brought down our economy STILL haven’t learned from their mistakes, and probably never will.

They’ll Pay Us Back – Someday

In a talk to employees, he said “When we get the fair value for those businesses, that’s when we’re going to sell them; it’s not going to be before.” And apparently, that’s when we, the taxpayers, will get our money back. He also reportedly said that he “had the luxury to say to the government, I’m not going to rush to do this. I’m appalled at how much pressure has been put on all of you to just sell it no matter what, because the Fed wants out, or the Treasury wants out. If they want out in a hurry, they shouldn’t have come in in the first place.”

Shouldn’t have come in in the first place.

There’s a word for that type of comment, but it’s not appropriate on a family blog. I’ll be honest, I didn’t agree with the bailouts, but our government believed it was saving our economy from an even worse collapse than the one we experienced. Maybe it did save us. We can’t know for sure. Apparently this new CEO would have preferred that we just let AIG fail. Of course, if we’d done that he wouldn’t have a job, but his thinking didn’t go that far on the issue.

It’s Not Their Fault

And now we get to the part that nearly made my skull open and fire erupt from it. Do you know why AIG failed? Do you know why our economy was driven to the brink of collapse? You’re probably thinking, “because financial companies bought and sold imaginary products based on made-up numbers.” Yes, a reasonable person would blame the financial companies for taking bad risks and making poor decisions in the name of greed, however, the new AIG CEO has a different viewpoint. “It’s time the people in Congress stopped talking about you as the problem, because you’re the solution,” he said. “It’s not your fault, it’s their fault, it’s the regulators’ fault.”

It’s the regulators’ fault.

Yes, to some extent that’s true. But he’s also abdicating corporate responsibility. If our government doesn’t explicitly ban a practice or explicitly regulate a practice, then corporations are just going to go hog wild. They’re not going to think about repercussions or responsibility. Money is money no matter how they get it or what the repercussions are.

At this point, I imagine AIG is a pack of unsupervised two-year-olds in a candy store. They’re just going to eat and eat and eat until they get sick because Mom isn’t there to make them stop, and then they’re going to blame Mom for not stopping them before they got sick.

I do realize this was an internal pep talk meant to motivate employees because AIG is losing staff, however, the CEO should have been wise enough to know that this speech would leak to the media. Everything leaks to the media, especially if it’s juicy.

I’m now sad to admit that I was once a shareholder in this company. Of course, that was 10 years ago when they were still honest and reliable. At this point, I don’t know that I would be willing to buy their stock again because I can’t trust them to be financially responsible. Comments like the above are only hurting their case.

As an aside, what do you want to bet that they have lobbyists in Washington actively campaigning against increased regulations, you know, because if the regulators are at fault for not regulating them, then the solution couldn’t possibly be to be regulate them. His comments are proof that we do need more regulation – effective regulation – because we can’t trust financial companies to do the right thing.


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