Jacology: AIG Bailout
(KPLR) – In Tuesday’s Jacology, Charles Jaco looks at AIG’s bailout thank you and why Americans may not be thanking the CEO.
The great writer Leo Rosten once defined chutzpah as, quote “the quality enshrined in a man who, having killed his mother and father, throws himself on the mercy of the court because he’s an orphan”. My nominee for the man who best exemplifies chutzpah these days, an 87 year old Gazillio Naire named Maurice Greenberg.
Greenberg used to be CEO of American International Group, .known as AIG for short. AIG is the 29th biggest company in the world. It has total assets of 656 billion dollars. If AIG were a country, it would be worth more than Saudi Arabia. When the economy crashed in 2008, it looked like AIG might go out of business, throwing international markets into turmoil and maybe a great depression.
So the United States government, that’s U.S. taxpayers prevented a collapse by bailing out AIG. We fronted $182 billion tax dollars to AIG to stop the freefall. We ended up owning 92 percent of AIG. And we forced its biggest shareholders to share the pain, by taking a loss on their investments. The government finally sold back all of AIG, making taxpayers a few billion in profit. The economy was saved.
But Greenberg claims the deal almost wiped him out. That may be hard to believe since before the crash, Greenberg was the 214th richest person in the world, personally worth over three billion dollars. Anyway, as his thanks for us bailing out AIG and helping save the world economy, Greenberg is now suing the government for $25 billion dollars, claiming we illegally took his property.
Oh and on top of that? Greenberg is trying to get AIG, the company we saved, to join his lawsuit.
Now that’s chutzpah.
I’m Charles Jaco and that’s Jacology.