12 May 2011

History of AIG

AIG is in the news again: The US government wants to sell the interest it acquired in this giant insurance company upon bailing it out in the horrid autumn of 2008. After a period of braggadocio about how the spin-off was going to net enough money to make the taxpayers whole -- in fact, to make us taxed folk net gainers on the deal -- everybody involved seems to have realized that this is not the case after all.

Here is what Forbes has to say. And here is a few words from Reuters.

'Lest we forget, AIG came to a bad end in its previous incarnation largely due to the Financial Products unit (AIG FP), which was taking the long side of mortgage derivatives long after more savvy folkk had grown wary of it. Here are a few words from Roddy Boyd's recent book on the subject, FATAL RISK.

This represent's Greenberg's thinking on the subject of FP as of the autumn of 2001:

"Nor is it a stretch to imagine Greenberg thinking that as long as he had a smart, hardworking sort in that slot who respected him and the AIG legacy well, that was all you needed. There developed a widespread perception that managing FP was very similar to being in charge of an elite military unit: with a clearly defined mission and parameters, close supervision from an experienced member of the ranks and enough operating latitude, positive results were nearly assured. There had, after all, been almost a decade since any material FP screw up."

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Knowledge is warranted belief -- it is the body of belief that we build up because, while living in this world, we've developed good reasons for believing it. What we know, then, is what works -- and it is, necessarily, what has worked for us, each of us individually, as a first approximation. For my other blog, on the struggles for control in the corporate suites, see www.proxypartisans.blogspot.com.