Sunday, March 15, 2009

AIG Counterparty Disclosures

AIG has been in the limelight this Sunday, as it gets a double whammy in today's news. First, it is taking heat from the Obama administration for its $165 million in executive bonuses, no doubt headed straight to offshore accounts.

The administration is telling us they are powerless to do anything about the $165M bonuses to be dispensed this week. (UPDATE [3/16/08]: New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo today threatened subpoenas around the details of the retention payments, and possible legal action. [3/17/09]: Political upset at AIG continues with some in congress threatening a 91% tax against bonus payments; except that many of the recipients are not U.S. Citizens. Personally, I say let them keep the $165M. The amount of widespread public outrage these few executives have generated against financial bailouts is worth its weight in gold—Madison Avenue couldn't have done this—and may in the long run save the taxpayers billions.)

The other story is that under increasing political pressure AIG has released counterparty payments (also credit default swaps) for the final months of 2008, which included domestic banks, foreign banks, and municipal funds (see Toxic Securities Insurance). It accounts for $75B of the initial $85B bailout money, but leaves nearly $100B of taxpayer liabilities still unaccounted for. If it trickles out in upcoming news I'll update this post accordingly.

UPDATE [3/17/09]: This article from Fox Business is reporting $120B of the nearly $180B in U.S. taxpayer money has been accounted for, with Goldman Sachs being the largest beneficiary at $12B—and Societe Nationale (France), Deutch Bank (Germany), and Barclays (England) following right behind in the $11B range. There is still around $1.6T in credit default swap obligations—a number likely to rise as economic turmoil continues.

Hopefully these stories, taken together, indicate the AIG mess will be unraveling soon.

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