The AIG Money Pit

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Sources close to the company said the loss will be near $60 billion due to writedowns on a variety of assets including commercial real estate.

That massive loss is likely to spur downgrades in its insurance and credit ratings that will force AIG to raise collateral that it doesn’t have.

I’m not even going to pretend to understand what is going on, but I will say this- if I owned 80% of something, and every damned month it cost me a metric ton of money I did not have, it would not be too long before I drove that something off a cliff, hit it in the back of the head with a shovel, or shot it multiple times at close range.

Why can’t we shoot AIG and bury it in the backyard?






105 replies
  1. 1
    demkat620 says:

    Because AIG is the National Money Hole.

  2. 2
    random asshole says:

    Why can’t we shoot AIG and bury it in the backyard?

    My best guess is such an action would trigger several trillion in credit default swaps–exactly the reason we didn’t let them fail to begin with.

    That, and you also need to consider the fact that such a failure would undoubtedly overwhelm any government insurance guaranty that are still around.

  3. 3
    NonyNony says:

    Why can’t we shoot AIG and bury it in the backyard?

    Because AIG was nationalized in a panic so that the country wouldn’t have to nationalize the banks. Shooting it now would mean that there would be a zero chance of getting the money shoved into it in a panic back, rather than the slightly better chance we have of getting that money back if AIG is kept alive.

    What I want to know is why the top level management of the company hasn’t been completely terminated and replaced by underlings making a fraction of their salaries. I also want to know if they have a "plan for profitability" like the auto companies needed to get their bailout – does AIG even have a roadmap to becoming a profitable company again?

  4. 4
    stickler says:

    Yeah, what random asshole said.

    Thus we have yet another example of George W. Bush being the perfect anti-genius. This is one more case of us being screwed no matter what response we choose. (Sort of like Iraq, now that I think about it, or Afghanistan too.)

    One choice we haven’t yet seen, though, is taking the executives of AIG out of their corner offices and putting them on trial for fraud, if incompetence isn’t illegal. The moral hazard problem, and the public’s thirst for revenge, would both be dealt with. Everybody wins!

  5. 5
    srv says:

    I don’t know, perhaps we could discuss this over a Pajama Tea Party.

    Time for you to make a call to the photoshop nerds. We need Malkin, Glenn and Joe in injun getups. You’re going to be free in March.

    And, I’m too loathe to check, but Jeffy’s whine about how he was stabbed-in-the-back and going to have to stop blogging. Has that crybaby gone back on his promise or can we break out the marshmellows?

  6. 6
    Noonan says:

    Because in the process of shooting AIG we’d also end up blowing holes in the tops of our shoes.

    Basically this game of lighting piles of money on fire to fuel our economic Hindenberg has got to end soon with some big banks getting nationalized. Otherwise, like Krugman said today, we’re just socializing the losses and privatizing the gains so old men with lots of stock options don’t get a pink slip. Screw that.

  7. 7
    bootlegger says:

    While PJTV is promoting tax cut protests, maybe someone could suggest they go after the Zombie banks instead. I know just the man "…and Joe the Plumber are mobilized to help provide visibility." Yep, a little plumber’s crack will scare the bejeezus out of teh zombies.

  8. 8

    I have just observed the President’s summit, where he asks his ‘groups’ their ‘advice’, and nobody says anything of substance, and have come to the conclusion that one difference between John and the President is that John does not pretend to know what is going on.

    The people of AIG transferred their liabilities to the taxpayer, under Geithner’s supervision, the way I see it.

  9. 9
    gbear says:

    Too big to bury.

  10. 10
    Comrade Stuck says:

    Why can’t we shoot AIG and bury it in the backyard?

    Because you, I, China, and all of us own it now, sort of. And besides, AIG, along with all the other corporate carcasses we are standing up would take too much digging, and a way to big yard. So best to just to wrap em up with gauze, and let em wander our neighborhoods begging for cash. And maybe they will let us live.

  11. 11
    random asshole says:

    @Brick Oven Bill:

    The reason no one publicly says anything of substance is because, as we learned a week or two ago, when Geithner makes public statements, people completely freak out.

    I have to assume more substantive matters are being discussed behind closed doors until policies are finalized. However, as I have also learned over the last several years, anytime I assume that government officials aren’t as dumb as they sound, I end up proven completely incorrect.

  12. 12
    AmIDreaming says:

    You don’t want toxic waste buried in your back yard…even if the Bush EPA says it’s good for you.

  13. 13
    The Moar You Know says:

    if I owned 80% of something, and every damned month it cost me a metric ton of money I did not have, it would not be too long before I drove that something off a cliff, hit it in the back of the head with a shovel, or shot it multiple times at close range.

    I hope you enjoy being single, then.

  14. 14
    bootlegger says:

    @Comrade Stuck: I see the scam now, thanks to BOB. We buy up all this worthless securities, borrow money from the Chinese, then give the worthless paper to the Chinese in payment. Bam, problem solved.

  15. 15
    greynoldsct00 says:

    " if I owned 80% of something, and every damned month it cost me a metric ton of money I did not have, it would not be too long before I drove that something off a cliff, hit it in the back of the head with a shovel, or shot it multiple times at close range."

    I hope you enjoy being single, then.

    Moar, You always come up with a winner…

  16. 16
    TheHatOnMyCat says:

    I hope you enjoy being single, then.

    Absolutely the funniest line ever posted here.

    I will be laughing at this all week.

  17. 17
    Napoleon says:

    Why can’t we shoot AIG and bury it in the backyard?

    I say use a woodchipper like in Fargo.

  18. 18
    Martin says:

    My best guess is such an action would trigger several trillion in credit default swaps—exactly the reason we didn’t let them fail to begin with.

    Declare the swaps illegal, null and void, unless you or the other party are actual holders of the asset. It would be a tens of trillions of dollars writedown of fake assets for everyone simultaneously. Nobody is on one side or the other of the obligation – everyone is on both sides, so it’d more-or-less (to the tune of tens or hundreds of billions of dollars) cancel out.

    I’m not sure the market wouldn’t know *how* to freak out over something like that.

  19. 19
    Church Lady says:

    As I recall from last fall, if AIG goes under, it takes down the entire house of cards. Not just here, but world wide. I don’t think the Fed can run the printing presses fast enough to compensate for the entire world economy going kablooey.

  20. 20
    John PM says:

    My sister just got let go by SunAmerica Financial, so it appears that all divisions and subsidiaries of AIG are not so slowly going down the hole. She said that after the news about AIG started to hit, and especially after the bailout, potential customers were very leery about buying financial products associated with AIG. Imagine that.

    Why can’t we shoot AIG and bury it in the backyard?

    Because it’s too big to bury!

  21. 21
    Indylib says:

    @random asshole: Just curious,
    are you related to Just Some Fuckhead?

  22. 22
    TheHatOnMyCat says:

    I have just observed the President’s summit

    Me too, and I watched Barack hand the Republicans their asses on a plate with a ring of cheese and platters of cold cuts.

    Did you see the part where he was standing up there mocking Cantor, who was in the audience, and basically taking those stupid motherhumpers to school.

    This IS change I can believe in. Before they can even pick their favorite talking points for why they are against the largest tax cut in history for the middle class, he going to slam them with healthcare reform starting next week.

    Kickin ass, takin names.

    I’m sorry, what did you say, Bob?

  23. 23
    John S. says:

    The people of AIG transferred their liabilities to the taxpayer, under Geithner’s supervision, the way I see it.

    I’m sure the way you see things are skewed by the fact that your head is up your ass, BOB.

    Here’s a little refresher:

    On September 16, 2008, AIG suffered a liquidity crisis following the downgrade of its credit rating.

    [snip]

    The United States Federal Reserve, to prevent the company’s collapse, and in order for AIG to meet its obligations to post additional collateral to credit default swap trading partners, announced the creation of a secured credit facility of up to US$85 billion, secured by the assets of AIG subsidiaries, in exchange for warrants for a 79.9% equity stake, the right to suspend dividends to previously issued common and preferred stock.

    Perhaps you could point out, BOB, on what fantasy wingnut timeline was TIM GEITHNER in charge of either the Federal Reserve or the Treasury Department on SEPTEMBER 16, 2008?

    Oh right, he wasn’t. Granted, he may have played a hand in the matter due to his role at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, but he wasn’t the one who "supervised" the bailout.

  24. 24
    random asshole says:

    @Martin:

    I’m not sure the market wouldn’t know how to freak out over something like that.

    Actually, I can predict fairly well how the market would react to that.

    Gold would skyrocket to about $25,000 per ounce and the U.S. dollar would become completely worthless on the international market once we set a major government precedent for invalidating trillions of dollars of what are normally legally valid contracts. Even things like 30-day T-bills would end up paying about a 100% interest rate as no one in the world community trusts the dollar enough to lend money, even for a month. The government would be forced to print money like Zimbabwe just to fund operations and we could be looking at double-to-triple-digit inflation.

    Oh, and for the record, many of AIG’s financial problems stem from their international operations; IIRC, their CDS unit was largely based in London, for example.

  25. 25
    jibeaux says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    It’s funny, my first thought was "best not have kids, then."

  26. 26
    Shinobi says:

    As always ladies and gentlemen, The Onion.

  27. 27

    Perhaps I stuttered Sweetie. I saw a junior college professor trying to transfer accountability to a bunch of working groups, like he learned in the consensus classes back at school.

    The professional BSers in the working groups then daintily tossed the football back into the junior college professor’s lap, who then mumbles more empty platitudes.

    This is why academics fail when placed in competitive executive positions.

  28. 28
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    This remark has been confiscated by the edit police. Move along, nothing to see here.

  29. 29
    Comrade Stuck says:

    @bootlegger:

    Brilliant Idea!. One problem though, if we piss off the Chinee, no more cheap Flip-Flops. A high price, but I’m in.

  30. 30
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @Indylib: Who isn’t related to a random asshole or just some fuckhead?

  31. 31
    bootlegger says:

    @Brick Oven Bill:

    This is why academics fail when placed in competitive executive positions.

    Yesssss, because the executives have done so well in those positions. Oh, you mean THE position. Yep, got it. Now assume THE position.

  32. 32
    Martin says:

    The professional BSers in the working groups then daintily tossed the football back into the junior college professor’s lap, who then mumbles more empty platitudes.

    Translation: Nobody said anything about tractors, ergo, they were all full of shit.

  33. 33
    John S. says:

    This is why academics fail when placed in competitive executive positions.

    Then why do executives fail even more spectacularly when placed in competitive executive positions, BOB?

  34. 34

    I have a personal grudge against the crooks @AIG so I’d be happy to be the one doin’ the shootin’.

    They’re barely worth the effort in digging a shallow grave.

    Too big to fail is too big.

  35. 35
    bootlegger says:

    @Comrade Stuck: I know some folks with Mountain Dew Mouth in the next county who will make your flip-flops for some dentures and a 24-pack of the Dew.

  36. 36
    Martin says:

    Gold would skyrocket to about $25,000 per ounce and the U.S. dollar would become completely worthless on the international market once we set a major government precedent for invalidating trillions of dollars of what are normally legally valid contracts.

    Investment tip: Buy gold if Martin ever decides to run the country. Since fuck-ups will surely happen, at least be prepared to capitalize on them.

    The key word above is ‘normally’. They shouldn’t ever have been legal as set up, but they are, and unfortunately we must deal with them as such.

  37. 37
    bootlegger says:

    @LanceThruster: Precisely, and that is one way to kill a zombie, chop ’em up into little bits.

  38. 38
    Andre says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    I hope you enjoy being single, then.

    Pshaw, hookers aren’t girlfriend material.

  39. 39

    In 2003, Geithner became President of the Federal Reserve of New York. Geithner was promoted from that job to become Treasury Secretary in January, 2009. He received a $400,000+ ‘severance’, which was not a ‘bonus’ during the transition. He also received between $50,000 and $100,000 as compensation for unused vacation and comp time. This is a lot of unused vacation and comp time, but was not a bonus either.

    AIG transferred 80% of its obligations to the taxpayer between 2003 and January, 2009. September 16th, 2008 was in between these two dates, if I understand timelines. Geithner’s best man at his wedding was his dad.

  40. 40
    paul in kirkland says:

    It’s pretty simple.

    You know how we’re all learning about how everything was a mess, how financial "geniuses" "invented" "new and improved" to make tons of money, and how it was a completely bogus? And how it adds up to trillions of dollars?

    AIG insured it all.

  41. 41
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @bootlegger: Let’s not forget it was America’s first MBA President that presided over a global financial meltdown.

  42. 42
    TheHatOnMyCat says:

    I saw a junior college professor trying to transfer accountability to a bunch of working groups, like he learned in the consensus classes back at school.

    You outdo yourself Bawb. So, bipartisanship, as lusted after and demanded by Barack’s opponents, is just a ruse to deflect responsibility?

    Well then, you must love the way he lures them in and then shoves the hot, sharp stick right up their asses!

    Not unlike what we do to you, here. Once again, BJ imitates life.

  43. 43
    bootlegger says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead: Which goes to show how un-academic MBA’s and B-schools really are.

  44. 44
    Don says:

    Declare the swaps illegal, null and void, unless you or the other party are actual holders of the asset.

    Give me a break. The enforceability of contracts is pretty much the cornerstone of any government continuity. Nuking our ten largest cities would be less disruptive than retroactively altering all those contracts.

    John, the NPR Marketplace blog has a number of good "whiteboard talks" including one on write-downs.

  45. 45
    TheHatOnMyCat says:

    Why can’t we shoot AIG and bury it in the backyard?

    Apparently because it oozes glue that holds pieces of the contraption together. It looks like a clearing house for bad mojo.

    I think we can be pretty sure that if AIG weren’t necessary, it wouldn’t be around right now.

    The Texas Oligarchs have left town. People with pocket protectors are running things now.

  46. 46

    Definitely long hair, likely a pair of leather pants.

  47. 47
    mwm341 says:

    Why can’t we bury AIG in the backyard?

    Because it’d stink for a loooooooooooong time.

  48. 48
    Indylib says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead:

    Who isn’t related to a random asshole or just some fuckhead?

    LOL. So true.

  49. 49
    TheHatOnMyCat says:

    Definitely long hair, likely a pair of leather pants.

    Don’t try to describe yourself, Bob. Please put up a picture.

  50. 50
    Jim Pharo says:

    The whole gold at $25,000 and the dollar is worthless thing is going to happen any how. It’s "pull the band-aid quick" or "slowly peel away."

    The damage has already been done. As noted upthread, this is classic Bush: a colossal cock-up with no good solutions.

    The more Geithner and Co., can delay, the more they’ll know and perhaps the better their choices. If they were forced to resolve things today, it’d be pretty bad. They’re betting that kicking the can down the road works in their favor. We’ll see.

  51. 51
    bayville says:

    With apologies to Bernie Madoff, AIG is the largest ponzi scheme in American history.

    AIG still has trillions of $$$ of outstanding CDSs to make good on. The Fed, no doubt, will toss a couple hundred billion the way of AIG to keep it from going under.
    And then, in the second quarter, the same will happen until AIG eventually goes belly up.
    That is when this "recession" will hit rock bottom.

  52. 52
    bootlegger says:

    @Brick Oven Bill: What happens if you wear leather pants and it rains? I’m too scared to find out for myself.

    And the long hair, is that nose hair or ear hair? I’ve got both.

  53. 53
    nylund says:

    If AIG collapsed, there is a decent chance that the entire financial system of the world would entirely break down. It might not happen, but it might. And basically, no one wants to find out for sure.

  54. 54
    sam the sham and the pharoahs says:

    Try to imagine any other field of endeavor where management screwed up as badly as our financial wizards have. Heads would have rolled, and new management would be in place.

  55. 55
    TheHatOnMyCat says:

    a colossal cock-up with no good solutions.

    Oh no, Bush had a solution:

    "That’s something for the next president to deal with. Heh heh."

    Now, that’s leadership I can believe in.

  56. 56
    gypsy howell says:

    You know, it occurs to me that there is plenty of money to go around to keep everyone happy, it’s just that all the wrong people, and way too few of them, have all the money right now.

    We are talking trillions, right?

  57. 57
    r€nato says:

    What I would like to know:

    Supposedly what is sinking AIG are these credit default swaps which are bets that toxic-mortgage-backed securities would not surpass a certain level of defaults. Right?

    OK. How much are we talking here? Does anyone know (or dare tell us)? Because if these CDS are ‘worth’ several trillion dollars, I don’t know how we will ever fill up that hole without a Zimbabwe-like cranking up of the printing presses.

    Declaring the CDS ‘null and void’ would certainly have dire consequences, but what is the alternative? The US government goes into deep, deep debt in order to make these folks good?

  58. 58
    Mnemosyne says:

    Repeated because paul in kirkland has the best summary:

    You know how we’re all learning about how everything was a mess, how financial "geniuses" "invented" "new and improved" to make tons of money, and how it was a completely bogus? And how it adds up to trillions of dollars?

    AIG insured it all.

  59. 59
    r€nato says:

    Try to imagine any other field of endeavor where management screwed up as badly as our financial wizards have. Heads would have rolled, and new management would be in place.

    As Bill Maher pointed out on Friday, in China, they may well have been executed.

    It might not have solved the problems and given the market confidence, but why not try it out? Can’t have any less a chance of success than what we’ve tried thus far.

  60. 60
    John S. says:

    In 2003, Geithner became President of the Federal Reserve of New York. Geithner was promoted from that job to become Treasury Secretary in January, 2009.

    That’s a matter of historical record, BOB, so thanks for stating the obvious.

    The fact remains that despite the role he may have played in the AIG bailout as President of the Federal Reserve of New York (which nobody is denying), neither the SUPERVISION of that bailout nor the impetus to do so fell directly on his shoulders. Period. That honor is bestowed upon Ben Bernanke and Henry Paulson.

    I realize that as a full-fledged wingnut you start with your conclusion and work your way backwards towards the hypothesis:

    AIG transferred 80% of its obligations to the taxpayer between 2003 and January, 2009. September 16th, 2008 was in between these two dates, if I understand timelines.

    But could you attempt to look a LITTLE less ridiculous in the process?

    And for the record, if Geithner continues to throw even more good money after his delinquent pals on Wall Street now that he DOES have the authority to do so, nobody will be quicker to slam him than I.

  61. 61
    bayville says:

    @r€nato
    Agreed but there are literally tens of thousands of investors, hedge funds, banks, whore houses, etc., worldwide that have $$$ invested in these CDS’s.

    All options of what to do are catastrophic.
    And that is the optimistic outlook.

  62. 62
    r€nato says:

    "That’s something for the next president to deal with. Heh heh."

    There is so much truth in that, there are so many things Bush fouled up and left as messes for someone else to clean up.

    Gitmo – whether you think all those people incarcerated there should stay forever or if you think they all deserve trials, it’s a mess. Bush totally punted that one and I have even had a gung-ho GOP military officer tell me that was one of the huge messes Bush left for his successor. If you aren’t going to just lock those folks up forever – something deeply un-American – then they must become part of the legal process. And the Bush regime made it much more likely that some truly bad dudes could be set free because the evidence against them was obtained through torture.

    Katrina. The economy. The political ratfucking of the civil service. Iraq. Afghanistan. Global climate change. On and on the shit parade goes.

    Bush was a category 5 hurricane, 8.0 Richter scale earthquake, out-of-control wildfire and biblical flood wrapped up into one executive office package.

  63. 63

    "People with pocket protectors are running things now."

    Pocket protector Orszag’s testimony to Congress that bailing out Fannie-Freddie would probably cost the taxpayer nothing, but might cost $25 billion through 2009-2010. Outside chance of $100 billion through 2009-2010.

    It has so far cost the taxpayer $400 billion and we are not through February yet.

  64. 64
    Svensker says:

    Try to imagine any other field of endeavor where management screwed up as badly as our financial wizards have. Heads would have rolled, and new management would be in place.

    No, no, no. I have learned yet again today that the companies were only a little bit responsible and it was mostly the liberals fault for wanting negroes and hispanics to have houses. Plus, Nancy Pelosi, also.

    Please don’t make me say it again.

  65. 65
    magisterludi says:

    Ya know, in the olden days, privateers would take back the treasure stolen from the King by pirates or other enemies of the realm.

    I’m for bankrupting all these Wall Street geniuses and turning them out into the mean streets with nothing but a pair of bootstraps.

  66. 66
    Martin says:

    AIG transferred 80% of its obligations to the taxpayer between 1992 and January, 2009. November 17, 1995 is in between these two dates, if I understand timelines, therefore Monica Lewinsky blowing Bill Clinton caused the financial meltdown.

    Fixed that for ya.

  67. 67
    big woo says:

    @Brick Oven Bill:

    Geithner’s best man at his wedding was his dad.

    A fool of a man. A man who ultimately cared nothing about the price of pizza cheese or the electrification of railroads.

  68. 68
    Comrade Stuck says:

    @gypsy howell:

    You know, it occurs to me that there is plenty of money to go around to keep everyone happy, it’s just that all the wrong people, and way too few of them, have all the money right now

    It’s the GOP roadmap to prosperity. We take all the money and give it business to build widgets and say presto kazzam economy. And nothing happens and wingnut’s scratch their heads and wonder why./

    So we borrow more money and keep giving it to business who don’t make anything cause no one else has enough money to buy anything, so they concoct all sorts of flim flam schemes to gamble it on the stock market, until the scam unravels and they are again hat-in-hand . Rinse and repeat.

    Thank you conservative business model. Now we’re all in a prickle. Your prickle.

  69. 69
    Montysano (All Hail Marx & Lennon) says:

    @r€nato:

    OK. How much are we talking here? Does anyone know (or dare tell us)? Because if these CDS are ‘worth’ several trillion dollars, I don’t know how we will ever fill up that hole without a Zimbabwe-like cranking up of the printing presses.

    $60T is the number that’s been kicked around, which is essentially global GDP for one year. Of course, no one really knows, because CDSs are unregulated. Please direct all thanks to Phil Gramm.

  70. 70
    Martin says:

    A fool of a man. A man who ultimately cared nothing about the price of pizza cheese or the electrification of railroads.

    But what did he know of tractors and the unwarranted wiretapping of our thermostats?

  71. 71
    TenguPhule says:

    My best guess is such an action would trigger several trillion in credit default swaps—exactly the reason we didn’t let them fail to begin with.

    Please note that this does not mean we can’t shoot AIG’s management teams en masse.

  72. 72
  73. 73
    Brachiator says:

    Why can’t we shoot AIG and bury it in the backyard?

    Because AIG is (altogether now) "too big to let fail." However, I’m pretty sure that we can contact a Republican governor and swap AIG for the stimulus money that they want to turn down.

    Somebody get the governor of Louisiana on the phone.

  74. 74
    les says:

    Why can’t we shoot AIG and bury it in the backyard?

    Because they were stupid and incompetent on a scale undreamed of even in Republican wet dreams, and the eternally rotting corpse will be on display in perpetuity as a monument to human failings.

  75. 75
    TenguPhule says:

    Try to imagine any other field of endeavor where management screwed up as badly as our financial wizards have. Heads would have rolled, and new management would be in place.

    Bush admin political appointees.

    I rest my case.

  76. 76
    Comrade Dread says:

    Please note that this does not mean we can’t shoot AIG’s management teams en masse.

    Shooting is too good for them. Rendition the whole crew to Gitmo for the rest of their lives.

  77. 77

    @Brick Oven Bill: Your problem, BillBob, aside from having been blown as a spoof here long ago, is that you can’t provide an alternative.

    Who’s going to run things now? The Republicans?

    Yeah, I think we went to that rodeo in November.

    They lost.

    We won.

    You are in for a long four years, dude. Right now you are basically skeet in this shoot.

    That’s in the sporting vernacular, but if you want to take it in the more recent street vernacular …. that’s okay too.

  78. 78

    seems to me that, for starters, maybe all the extremely wealthy folks who clapped their hands and believed in fairies (or credit default swaps. take your pick) and made the bad decisions that landed us in this hot water, but who cashed out before the hammer fell, ought to have that wealth (which never really existed in the first place, from what i can gather) nationalized and applied to the toxic debt instruments they created out of thin air and mathematical models. we don’t have to clean them out entirely (satisfying though that might be). leave them a few mil to survive on, you know, just til they can get back on their feet. i mean, we hear over and over how they’re ‘the best and the brightest,’ which is why they got all that imaginary money as bonuses anyway. i’m sure they’ll be more than able to give them bootstraps a tug and get right back up on top.

    outside the realm of fantasy, we may not be able to take aig out back and shoot it, but we can sure as hell clear out the top couple of tiers of management and bring in some new blood at a more reasonable level of compensation.

    as for aig, maybe after we let some banks fail and go into receivership we can do the same with aig. if you pull off the top layer or two of the house of cards, it causes less damage when you pull the lower cards, right?

  79. 79

    I will give you something to contend with, TheHatOnMyCat, in the vernacular of your choice. I would not mind letting the military run things for, perhaps six months, hold some trials under the UCMJ, and then re-establish democracy. I say we should hold a national referendum on this proposal.

    Oh my gosh, imagine this one. Our Treasury Secretary Geithner will give his hedge fund acquaintances a trillion dollars. You know, to help the economy.

    Too bad that those tax rate on the hedge fund managers is still 15%, three years into a Democratic congress.

  80. 80
    KDP says:

    Clawbacks…clawbacks….and more clawbacks….

    Make the suckers pay back all those bonuses they ‘earned’ through fraudulent financial devices….

    They were in charge, the f-ed up, let them restore the company coffers they destroyed out of their own capital…

    Know it won’t happen, but it sure feels good to say it…

  81. 81
    Olliander says:

    Please direct all thanks to Phil Gramm.

    And to Bill Clinton for signing the bill…

  82. 82
    Feebog says:

    Why can’t we shoot AIG and bury it in the backyard?

    Because AIG is already dead. That is zombie AIG you see on those TV commercials. Basically we are looking at Weekend at Bernies, Global Economy Version, with AIG in the starring role.

    Best bet is to string the carcass up and let it twist in the wind for a few months. It may stink to high heaven, but it will serve as a reminder to everyone why a free, unregulated market is not a good thing.

  83. 83
    Comrade Darkness says:

    Late, but not mentioned. Europe allowed their banks to hold AAA rated instruments as their Tier 1 capital. Guess what they are holding, and who is insuring the holdings?

    If we hadn’t bailed out AIG, the entire European banking sector would have maybe lasted 3 days…

    F*ck them, one could assert… true, but it *was* our fraudulent, whoring, pretend-regulated Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s and others who were rating junk as AAA. That *was* our bad and we have yet to even heap retribution upon them for their collossal breach of reality.

    We should temporarily turn wall street clean up over to the Chinese. Just for a week or so. We could hold the "ceremonies" in large arenas and sell tickets to help pay off the national debt. win-win.

  84. 84
    OniHanzo says:

    I will give you something to contend with, TheHatOnMyCat, in the vernacular of your choice. I would not mind letting the military run things for, perhaps six months, hold some trials under the UCMJ, and then re-establish democracy.

    What is it with you wingnuts and your closet love affair of all things Stalinist/Third World despotic?

    A junta? Seriously?

    Reagan weeps for you.

    I say we should hold a national referendum on this proposal.

    Don’t you want to wait and see if your Tea Parties can shake out enough numbers before you go shooting your mouth off about another embarrassing ‘national referendum’? The last one didn’t sting enough?

  85. 85
    Conservatively Liberal says:

    A fool of a man. A man who ultimately cared nothing about the price of pizza cheese or the electrification of railroads.

     

    But what did he know of tractors and the unwarranted wiretapping of our thermostats?

    You aren’t asking the most important question: Does he use Coppertone (with "Beta-Blockers!") to protect himself from beta radiation? I need to know if we can protect ourselves from a turrist dirty bomb by rubbing Coppertone (with "Beta-Blockers!") all over ourselves.

  86. 86
    Elie says:

    bayville@ 61
    "All options of what to do are catastrophic. And that is the optimistic outlook."

    Yes, so true. Those above who keep railing at Geithner or Obama or whoever to be smart and "fix it" are just not accepting the reality. As with many f–k ups in life, its easier getting in than getting out. World class underwater cavers not infrequently swim into a space and then can’t work their way back out. Somehow things just don’t fit…There are tough mountain scrambles that are easy going up but then almost impossible coming down. Most fatal mountaineering accidents happen on the climb down — usually under pressure to get down ( "fix it) in declining conditions — uh — like now.

    Like it or lump it. We are in it. We are committed because we cannot go backwards — only forwards.

    Doesnt help to fling insults at the team that is trying to lead us down. Yeah, they may have gotten us here, but we are ALL responsible at some level and as I said, we are committed and have to move forward.

  87. 87
    John S. says:

    Too bad that those tax rate on the hedge fund managers is still 15%, three years into a Democratic congress.

    As usual, the view is skewed when you have your head up your ass, BOB.

    TWO years of a Democratic congress with Bush as president who fucking vetoed anything that moved. And thus far, we’re a whole whopping ONE MONTH into a new administration with a Democratic congress.

    Looks neither like math NOR logic are your strong suit, BOB. Stick to the cost of pizzas and electrified rail lines.

  88. 88
    Mike in NC says:

    Bush was a category 5 hurricane, 8.0 Richter scale earthquake, out-of-control wildfire and biblical flood wrapped up into one executive office package.

    But given the attention span of the American people, we’ve not heard the last from him.

    What is it with you wingnuts and your closet love affair of all things Stalinist/Third World despotic?

    Not so much a "closet" love affair, really. All hail, Joe the Plumber Dictator!

  89. 89
    stickler says:

    AIG is not a stinking zombie. It’s a rotting whale, washed up on the beach and annoying the neighbors. What should we do? We should blow it up! What could possibly go wrong …

    Seriously, though, I guess I could stomach bailing out the banks and AIG and all. But why has not one stinking CEO been fired, let alone prosecuted? (Well, John Thain quit, I guess, but I don’t see him covered in sackcloth yet.)

  90. 90
    amocz says:

    We should temporarily turn wall street clean up over to the Chinese.

    The Chinese are too pussified to do what needs to be done, at this point. They’ve allowed themselves to become corrupted by association with the running dogs of world capitalism, and are no more than tai-khuns themselves.

    On the other hand, the Khmer Rouge…

  91. 91
    Elie says:

    stickler @ 89

    I am totally sympathetic to your question about why none of these f—ers have been fired or jailed. Who would do that?

    It was almost easier after WWII when all the institutions had been smashed and we could just waltz in and take over. But this is not like that. The institutions have been saveged but all the old cast of characters with their assumptions and power that they are unreconciled to losing, are still around — all of ’em, lots of ’em.

    There is yet no vehicle for their comupance — not YET anyway. I believe (and of course all of this is my inexpert opinion) that the vehicle for their banishment will evolve. But as the Wicked Witch of the West in the Wizard of Oz said, "these things must be handled delicately"…

    We are in trying and in many ways unprecedented times. Respect that. There will be many answers coming but we don’t, in fact can’t have all of them now.

  92. 92
    Xenos says:

    @Brick Oven Bill: BOB – You are aware that Credit Default Swaps are insurance contracts, are you not? Care to explain how insurance contracts can be regulated by the Fed?

    Sure, Geithner should have been aware that all those Credit Default Swaps should have been regulated by someone, but the Fed has no legal ability to regulate insurance companies like AIG. Even the treasury does not have the basis to regulate AIG. Neither does the FDIC, and neither does the SEC.

    AIG created a regulatory loophole, and then strangled itself in it.

  93. 93
    Montysano says:

    @Olliander:

    Please direct all thanks to Phil Gramm.

    And to Bill Clinton for signing the bill…

    Yeah….. whatever. It was slipped into an 11,000 page omnibus spending bill that Clinton signed a month before he left town. Hell, he may have been all for it; who knows? The thing is: it should have been obvious to any of Bush’s financial geniuses, somewhere along about 2004-2005 when the CDS market went geometric, that it was out of control and something needed to be done.

    Once again, the question is asked about BushCo: evil, or just incompetent?

  94. 94
    Comrade Darkness says:

    @amocz, it’s just a day dream of the kind that helps keep me sane… so I’m casting these Chinese in the role of "clean up" crew. The Chinese have lost some of their punch, but in an desperate effort to keep control, do still understand show-time "justice" at a level we better grasp soon, somehow, or the people will begin to take individual action.

    The powerful morons responsible for our mess have not only not been punished, they’ve been rewarded. It’s maddening.

    Once again, the question is asked about BushCo: evil, or just incompetent?
    Why not both?

  95. 95
    TheHatOnMyCat says:

    Too bad that those tax rate on the hedge fund managers is still 15%, three years into a Democratic

    What, after all this persona stuff, suddenly you can’t count?

    Two years, Bill. The most recent Dem controlled Congress prior to the current one was sworn in 2007.

    Two years and one month, to be precise:

    The 2006 US House election was held on November 7, 2006 to elect members to the United States House of Representatives. All of the 435 seats in the House were up for election. Those elected are serving in the 110th United States Congress from January 3, 2007 until January 3, 2009. The incumbent majority party, the Republican Party had controlled the house since the 1994 election and was defeated by the Democrats who won a majority in the House ending 12 years in opposition.
    On election day, Democrats gained 31 seats in the House, enough to take control, and Republicans became the minority party after 12 years of control.

    Those two years, of course, had the slim Dem majority under the shadow of a corrupt Republican White House.

    Your bullshit-fu is weak today, asshopper.

  96. 96
    burnspbesq says:

    We should only shoot AIG if it means that the Balloon Juice logo will end up on the front of Manchester United’s jerseys.

  97. 97
    LanceThruster says:

    To those who said AID "insured" it; that is wrong. That’s why the very name of Credit Default Swap (CDS) was invented, because if they called it ‘insurance’, some very specific regulation would have applied.

    I do not see why those who trusted a company selling a virtually worthless product backed by a promise that they were unable to fulfill should get off scott free. Nor should the government regulators who turned a blind eye, nor should any of these con artists in the banking/insurance industry get any sort of protection or job security for crafting such a worthless product.

    Credit unions are, by and large, doing fine. Let these incompetents go tits up, put some people in jail (make room by letting the non-violent drug cases go) and see what happens.

    I have ZERO faith in giving truckloads of money to the crooks that caused the problems in the first place.

    None.

  98. 98
    gbear says:

    @stickler:

    Damn you for linking to that video. I got distracted by the other links and now I have Exploding Elmo burned into my mind.

  99. 99
    carpeicthus says:

    Sadly, they’re the parent company of my insurer, so I’d be under their house of cards.

  100. 100

    OK, you got me.

    I had said that this Democratic congress, that had debated lifting the 15% tax rate for hedge fund managers, and then voted against it, has been in place for three years. I should have said that this Democratic congress, that had debated lifting the 15% tax rate for hedge fund managers, and then voted against it, has been in place for two years and slightly over one month.

    Who wants to make a wager that this Democratic congress, that had debated lifting the 15% tax rate for hedge fund managers, and then voted against it, that has been in place for two years and slightly over one month, will not raise the 15% tax rate for hedge fund managers in the next ten and one half months?

    Ten bucks.

  101. 101
    Brian J says:

    does AIG even have a roadmap to becoming a profitable company again?

    I don’t know the status of the company now, but back when it was nationalized, three out of four parts of the company were profitable. It was just the demise of the one division–an important one no doubt–that could have cause a lot of trouble.

  102. 102
    r€nato says:

    @Brick Oven Bill:

    I would not mind letting a dictatorship of the proletariat run things for, perhaps six months, hold some people’s trials of some Wall Street bastards followed by executions held in football stadiums, and then re-establish the middle class. I say we should hold a national referendum on this proposal.

    Fixt.

    (I say we start the trials with Dick Fuld and John Thain)

  103. 103

    Not a prole revolt. Perhaps an authorization by the proles for legitimacy purposes. Congress has an approval rating of what, 12%? The Executive will have the ethno-centric voting block in lock-step, but other than that, will be deeply unpopular in two years.

    The military retains public respect. This is because they are an organization founded in honor instead of greed.

    So why not the military for a short period of time? The military, to a decreasing but still significant extent, is an honorable and patriotic organization with minimal outside influences.

    If it were up to me, I’d give the reins of power to the United States Marine Corps for a strict six months, and direct them to return us to Constitutional rule. In a manner that they see fit, within the constraints of the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

    I agree with Dick Fuld and John Thain.

  104. 104
    John S. says:

    Of course you agree with John Thain, BOB – you’re both selfish wingnut assholes that never get tired of being full of shit or wrong (usually both).

  105. 105

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