Sunday, March 15, 2009

AIG's Slut List or How is this Tale like Death of a Salesman?


I wish we'd cut this BS and someone would explain our money crisis in base terms like sluts, whores, pimps, and suckers. It might make it easier to keep score and for us to see who needs a break and who needs an ass whuppin' followed by some alone time in a jail cell. I bet a street hustler could break this financial mess down just right.

Anyway, after congressional pressure and public outcry, insurance giant American International Group, AIG, which received billions in federal bailout money last fall, is naming its bedfellows, and it could be that the only people getting screwed are American taxpayers, bending over holding their ankles without one moment's pleasure.
AIG, facing intensifying scrutiny of its pay practices and questions about whether taxpayer money has been well spent on its behalf, released a list Sunday afternoon of the firms that benefited from the government's efforts last year to prop up the New York-based company. The list is topped by numerous European institutions and two big Wall Street firms, Goldman Sachs (GS, Fortune 500) and Merrill Lynch (ML).

AIG, which has avoided bankruptcy only because of $170 billion worth of taxpayer funding, said it released the list of trading partners, along with the sums they received, because the company "recognizes the importance of upholding a high degree of transparency with respect to the use of public funds." AIG said it made the announcement after consulting with the Federal Reserve, which has led the bailout of the company.

Legislators have been asking since last fall for the names of the counterparties, contending that taxpayers have a right to know how their funds are being used. ... (CNN Money/Fortune)
"After consulting with the Federal Reserve"? Boy, I'd like a video of that meeting. Here's a list AIG's Top Payouts according per CNN:
Below are the top 10 largest payouts, according to a report released Sunday by AIG.
  1. Societe Generale: $4.1 billion
  2. Deutsche Bank: $2.6 billion
  3. Goldman Sachs: $2.5 billion
  4. Merrill Lynch: $1.8 billion
  5. Calyon: $1.1 billion
  6. Barclays: $0.9 billion
  7. UBS: $0.8 billion
  8. DZ Bank: $0.7 billion
  9. Wachovia: $0.7 billion
  10. Rabobank: $0.5 billion
The company was also in hot water with the public and lawmakers because it planned to pay out $165 million in bonuses. That stuck in a lot of folks' craws, and so AIG claims it will do things differently.
Under pressure from the Treasury, AIG scaled back those plans and pledged to reduce 2009 bonuses -- or "retention payments" -- by at least 30 percent. That did little to temper outrage at the initial plan, however.

In a letter Sunday to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold urged the Obama administration to explore "legal options" to prevent the millions in AIG payouts.

"I write to ask why any bonuses would be legally required, given the company's abysmal performance," said Feingold, D-Wisconsin.

Also Sunday, CBS' "60 Minutes" aired an interview with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, who said the AIG bailout rankled him.

"Of all the events and all of the things we've done in the last 18 months, the single one that makes me the angriest, that gives me the most angst, is the intervention with AIG," Bernanke said." (CNN)
Updated: Found out PunditMom, a former attorney, has an opinion, no surprise there, on the bonuses.

The AIG story makes me think of Arthur Miller's play Death of a Salesman, specifically the part where it's revealed that Willie Loman's buys his mistress silk stockings while his wife, Linda, had to mend her worn pairs.
Willy's out-of-town mistress. The Woman was a secretary for a store that Willy sold to, and she would put him through to see the buyers. Willy bought her silk stockings when he saw her, and seeing Linda mending her own because it is too expensive to buy a new pair, racks Willy with the guilt of his infidelity. It was after Biff discovered Willy with the Woman, that Willy and his son grew apart. Willy's infidelity to his mother crushed Biff, and after realizing his dad was a fake, Biff gave up on summer school and the University of Virginia. (Bookrags)
So, who's the mistress, who's Biff, who's the philanderer, and who's the wife/mother in AIG's messy saga? Furthermore, does anyone at AIG feel guilty?

We can't blame the recession, banking deregulation, and other bad economic policy that led AIG to think it could and should hide its partners list from public scrutiny on just one political party. Both Republicans and Democrats alike let Wall Street off easy. Here's MSNBC's Keith Oberman's take on how we got where we are today, and he says it's not just President Bush's fault neither is this Obama's recession. I don't listen to Oberman often, but he's on point with his analysis of banking deregulation.

We keep hearing AIG is too big to let fail and that its collapse would have a domino effect around the globe. How did one company get so fat the world economy will crumble if we dont' feed that company? Anybody who wants to tackle explaining how AIG ate the world to us, please do. For further background, consider the New York Times article, "Behind Insurer’s Crisis, Blind Eye to a Web of Risk ."

I suppose life must work this way, that some of our federal bailout money goes abroad and AIG pays out bonuses even though the company's performance doesn't warrant bonus payouts while this nation sees increasing numbers of homeless children and other casualties of our economic crisis. Nevertheless, I keep thinking about Linda Loman, Willie's longsuffering wife, and how much her life sucked because Willie was a fool and she put up with him.

5 comments:

underOvr (aka The U) said...

I have reached the point where I'm too pissed to comment on this subject.

I could say, "WTF" but that would simply open the door requiring me to say much more.

U

Blue State Cowgirl said...

I'm with your previous poster. I'd love to add some intelligent comments and thoughts to this issue. But beyond WTF, seething anger and rising blood pressure, I can't get many words out. Things like this make you (almost) understand why some think their problems can be solved with handguns. But who would you shoot?

As Forrest Gump said, "Sometimes there just aren't enough rocks."

msladydeborah said...

LOL!

I love it when a blogger talks dirty to make a point! ;-)

Personally, I would like to see the guilty rounded up and put in jail. Or better yet, why don't we just advocate for a good old fashioned ass kicking that is nationally televised? We could take a page from the international book on how to discipline criminals and use the cane to tap that booty.

In memory of our ancestors we could tastefully suggest that they receive lashes equal to the dollar amount they received. But I want a sista to issue the punishment out. So they can hear what is on the mind of the taxpayers about how our money was spent.

I can see it now. Pop! You know you wasted our money. Pop! Who told you to give it away? Pop! Pop!

Ah! that was refreshing. A nice release before I leave to go to work.

Seriously,
Obama stated right here in The Heart of It All! that he wanted to go after AIG for the spending money for their spa weekend. Now I feel that Holder can earn his salary and get the SOB's responsible for insulting the hard working women and men by giving away our money to a group of misfits. Somebody needs to go to jail! Or prepare to meet the masses.

btw, can we start recruiting now for the Black mama's whup ass brigade? I am willing to volunteer!

Vérité Parlant said...

I can see it now. Pop! You know you wasted our money. Pop! Who told you to give it away? Pop! Pop!

Deborah: ROFL!

U and Lisa: I think may people are with you all and can't find the words to express how angry they are. I like Forrest Gump quote, Lisa. :-) No enough rocks indeed.

le0pard13 said...


We keep hearing AIG is too big to let fail and that its collapse would have a domino effect around the globe. How did one company get so fat the world economy will crumble if we dont' feed that company?


Well, a lot of so-called smart people made it so. In IT terms, this is a classic example of what is called a Single Point of Failure. And the only way out of it will be if leaders commit to rectify/re-engineer the financial system. And to do that requires:

Reduced Complexity

Redundancy

Diversity

Transparency

Come to think about it, those kind of fixes would have application for our other government institutions or societal ills, now wouldn't it?

Lastly, while I'd be all for that public corporal punishment, I'd rather have them in prison. Perhaps, with a felon who's mother has lost her pension or retirement fund to likes of them who created this mess. Just a thought...