March 18, 2009

AIG CEO commentary on his mission for the company

Posted: 10:24 AM ET

By Edward Liddy, CEO of American International Group (AIG)

The government rescue of American International Group (AIG) and other financial firms has produced a palpable wave of anger on the part of Americans and a rising public demand for accountability from corporate and government leaders.

The anger is understandable, and I share it. I have been fortunate in more than three decades in business to see firsthand the wealth creation that well-managed American companies bring to their employees and their communities. I have seen the good side of capitalism. But over the past six months, since agreeing to take the reins of AIG and reviewing how it was run in prior years, I have also seen instances of the bad side of capitalism.

Mistakes were made at AIG, and on a scale that few could have imagined possible. The most egregious of those began in 1987, when the company strayed from its core insurance competencies to launch a credit-default-swaps portfolio, which eventually became subject to massive collateral calls that created a liquidity crisis for AIG. Its missteps have exacted a high price, not only for the company and its employees but for the American taxpayer, the federal government's finances and the global economy. These missteps brought AIG to the brink of collapse and to the government for help.

More of Liddy's commentary HERE

Filed under: AIG

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leslie   March 18th, 2009 10:42 am ET

For the first time in my life, I'm 54, I have to pay the IRS. I will owe them (the Government) over $4,000.00, due to unemployment compensation and having to access my IRA to keep a roof over my head, as I was laid off a job I had for 20 years in '07. I'm going to feel like a fool writing that check, when the tax dollars are going to AIG, etc. for their million dollar bonuses. If the President truly wants to help the middle class, he needs to amend the '08 tax law retroactively, so we don't get penalized 10% for taking money out of our IRA in order to survive.

S. Daniels   March 18th, 2009 11:08 am ET

I know it sounds smart alecky, but insurance companies do operate much like casinos. Operating costs compared to other kinds of companies are low. Premiums are high, operating costs are relatively low. If you're not able to prosper in good times AND bad, it sounds like your management methods are the worst of the worse.

Someone could ask AIG where their premium money is, but regardless of the answer, AIG should not be allowed to even TOUCH any tax payer money.

S. Daniels

Michael C. McHugh   March 18th, 2009 11:55 am ET

I am now an owner of 1,000 shares of AIG, and I DEMAND my rights. I also DEMAND that the IRS, FBI, SEC, etc, etc, investigate AIG and all these other big banks. Confiscate their bonuses and all the rest of the money they're ripped off over the years!

Since I'm a capitalist now, which means that I am part of the only group that is ever listened to in America.

sumner barenberg   March 18th, 2009 12:17 pm ET

A.I.G Legal Strategy: Clawback/Receivership; Chapter VII converted to Chapter XI

Conceptually, the U.S.Government can place A.I.G. in Chapter VII., while A.I.G. continues to operate as a going concern. An interesting aspect under Chapter VII the U.S. Trustee has the right to claw back all preferential payments made by A.I.G.; i.e. preferential bonuses.

When the U.S.Trustee and the U.S.Government are satisfied that they have “cleaned house” then the U.S.Government can convert A.I.G. from Chapter VII to Chapter XI.

Under Chapter XI A.I.G. will continue to operate as a going concern, complete with debtor in possession financing (“DIP financing”). A.I.G. will be subjected to direct oversight by the U.S.Bankruptcy Court and the U.S.Trustee. Under Chapter XI, A.I.G. will be able to reorganize and potentially emerge from XI as a going concern.

The above approach is an idea that might help abate the controversy with respect to A.I.G. and its practices and concurrently provide the U.S.Congress and the Administration with credibility with respect to this matter.

AL   March 18th, 2009 12:55 pm ET

FREEDOM OF SPEECH APPEARS TO BE GONE. CNN and many other medias refuse to inform the PUBLIC about " USFSPA ",and everyone who reads this should be afraid .These people have a lot of explaining to do.

Cris   March 18th, 2009 12:56 pm ET

AIG, ED LIDDY –what is this craziness?! This CEO is completely CLUELESS. Liddy still doesn't get it!!!

Bonuses for ppl who caused the downfall and do not even work at AIG is idiotic!

I'm fed-up with all this arrogance and incompetence! I work hard for every single dollar. This is a huge SLAP in my face!

Tracy Barbee   March 18th, 2009 1:03 pm ET

This business with AIG just pisses me off. President Obama seems to be "complacent" on making AIG accountable and keeps saying
"we won't make the same mistake again." Screw that. Fix this one first!!! How about someone tells every employee that received a bonus of any size that they either A.) give it ALL back or B.) Their names, addresses and pictures will be published in every media outlet and the American Taxpayers can get it back from you. WE the American Taxpayers LOANED that "bail out" money to AIG and AIG had no right to use it for personal gains. Kudos to the reporter that called Obama out on the $100K contribution made to his campaign fund from AIG. Now, we all know why Obama made the comment "The Buck Stops Here With AIG". I feel Obama has absolutely no intention of making AIG return that money. I say we impeach Obama before the American People end up in worse shape then we are now.

JJO (in Philadelphia)   March 18th, 2009 1:53 pm ET

Mr. Ed Liddy is being deceptive that he can fix AIG and refund government money. If anyone believes that, then such individual has a big problem. Simple facts: the brand is bust, key executives have left, people shy away from doing business with AIG, it is losing money, prior to this mess and in good times, its market capitalization was not above $150 bn. Now, how could you repay close to $180 bn in bad times, and with most of its businesses sold off on a fire sale...for peanuts.

Liddy assumed this position from a friend. He is there to build up his pension with deferred compensation. His assistants are making a killing.

AIG should be closed downed within three can be done. It is a shell of a company, and money is being poured down this black hole.

Liddy has not added a value to the company since he was appointed by his friend, the previous Secretary of the Treasury.

Liddy should resign. If he has any respect for himself and his office, he should resihn now. He does no know what he is doing. Any MBA could do what he is doing...and do it better.

I detest all this.

JJO (In Philadelphia)

Kathleen   March 18th, 2009 2:42 pm ET

I am more angry than ever watching Liddy testifying. I do not understand why the CEOs who were fired for making bad financial decision on behalf of AIG are entitled to million of dollars of retention bonuses. I thought bonuses were based on job performance. What the heck is retention bonuses?

Susan Mayfield   March 18th, 2009 3:02 pm ET

Mr. Liddy, AIG CEO, said that executives who got bonuses had been responsible for putting their respective "book of business" in order prior to leaving the company. In other words, a person who was responsible for bringing down the company due to his/her bad decisions became responsible for "neatening up" their "book of business" prior to leaving their job. For doing that, they were paid millions of bonus dollars, presumably in addition to generous severance plans. Is this not equivalent to a truck driver's "second" log book that he keeps up for the DOC, masking the honest load and mileage information? The American people paid bonuses to executives to cover up, tidy up, and disguise their errors, in a self-serving manner, possibly further misappropriating funds to their benefit, and for doing that, these executives were rewarded by exhorbitant bonuses? Should the tidying up not have been done by a disinterested party who did not stand to benefit?? This smacks of fraud and intentional deception, in my opinion.

Kathleen   March 18th, 2009 3:03 pm ET

Hi agree with you Cris! I am beyond fired up. It is straight right offensive for people like me that got laid off for no fault of my own. I didn't get any retention bonus for staying in that job until it ended. The govt grill GM over the union workers and $29 an hour, but complete overlook AIG retention bonuses. It is definitely a double-standard. NO MORE BAILOUTS. LET AIG GO INTO BANKRUPTCY. First it was $440,000 in luxury spa now it's $165 million dollars in retention bonuses, and I'm afraid to find out what ridiculous and arrogant thing they will do next. I will never look at a CEO the same way for the rest of my life. As far as I'm concerned, they are all greedy and arrogant. I HATE THEM ALL! NO MORE BAILOUTS!

Myrna From Ohio   March 18th, 2009 3:32 pm ET

I have been paying on a term life insurance policy (AIG) since 1982..I purchaced the policy after my husband suddenly died from a massive heart attack age insurance..I didn't want my children to have to pay my mortgage and other bills . I need to know that when I die my children will be able to collect on this policy..please help me ..I am now on Social Security and continue to pay on this I being foolish? It has not been easy paying for this is for $95,000

david   March 18th, 2009 3:35 pm ET

Hi Larry,
Looking at this AIG incident, I would like to ask where is the great american value and ethics? Rich people got bonuses on a terrible job they have done. Regular american-worker got fired or layoff. The sarcastic part in here is that these "rich people's bonus" are being paid by the regular american-workers whom being fired or layoff. What kind of world we are in?

Myrna From Ohio   March 18th, 2009 3:35 pm ET

I need an answer as to keep on paying my premiums or sue AIG for past premiums..seeing that millions of dollars are paid for bonuses from which my money has gone to pay millionares!!! This is outrageous.

Xavier   March 18th, 2009 3:54 pm ET

Will the Obama administration allow the corporate to think and act independently? or the Corporate just have to follow administration set rules?

Michelle   March 18th, 2009 4:14 pm ET

Hold the government, Congress responsible for passing the bill that it appears they did not read that gave AIG the money-bonus, take it out of their pay because they should be performing.

Kathleen   March 18th, 2009 4:41 pm ET

Wow Myrna, I feel your pain! From 1982 to now I'm pretty sure you've paid more than $92,000. Since it is a term insurance, I don't think there is much you can do. If you cancel the policy you don't get anything back. Find out it is a policy that you can borrow money from it. If so, get it and invest the money in mutual fund or CD account. Then you can either continue paying for the term insurance or cancel it. But I'm not sure if canceling the insurance after you borrow from it is legal. After today's event, I doubt that the govt will continue bailing out AIG. I see them going bankrupt and you want to make sure that your investment in term insurance was not in vain.

Justice for The Righteous   March 18th, 2009 4:41 pm ET

President Hussein Obama was informed about the $165 million in bonuses due to employees of the American Insurance Group the day before they were paid out last week, the White House disclosed late Tuesday
Obama Received a $101,332 Bonus from AIG..AN OUTRAGE TOO....
Why do you think he is running to Jay Leno tonight......
Think hard........

Aditya   March 18th, 2009 4:50 pm ET

They got the money because our Politicians want them to get money and If President of US cant get this money back for them then we only have GOD to Help us. Let AIG fail and spare tax payers form this mes.

Kathleen   March 18th, 2009 4:58 pm ET

Justice for the Righteous, in your research on Obama's campaign fund, did you also research to see how many republicans who also received campaign fund from AIG? I don't understand what campaign fund has to do with the bailouts since that started as in spring of last year before Obama was even nominated by the Democratic party. George W. Bush was informed about the 911 attack beforehand and didn't do anything to prevent that. Why then didn't you think hard? Maybe if you had and others like you, we would not be in this situation today or maybe you did but it was beneficial to you to keep George W. Bush in power for eight years. President Barack Hussein Obama is doing his best to clear up the mess that your president left behind. Majority of the people support him a 100% regardless of your innuendo accusation. Get over the anger of having a black democratic president name Barack Hussein Obama, and pray that his plans work. Because that will benefit it the country as whole. Even you!

Frank in California   March 18th, 2009 4:59 pm ET

Not only should we not accept the actions of AIG, but our elected politicos should “also take the I am sorry bow, and commit suicide”. There are a lot of finger prints in Washington on this problem. This all happened on their watch.
Washington rushed to all the bailouts, they knew it, and knew months ago as the dollars were being passed out. We should not accept the actions of our Congress, as they are given the responsibility of doing what is good for the people that they serve and represent. If this is your best, OUT WITH YOU!

Obama said, “No body here drafted those contracts”, but if actually YES WE DID!! We had the chance as a condition of the funds to reduce and/ or eliminate the bonuses. AIG, they did what they were allowed to do based on conditions that were allowed recently by Congress. Washington is to blame, not the business people that played within the rules.

Fred McCreath   March 18th, 2009 5:11 pm ET

I must just be a dumb old Canadian because I can't figure out why, when the world is crashing and unemployment is getting worse every day, would financial sector employees need to be bribed not to leave their jobs. This applies to Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and AIG, as well as the big banks.

If I was lucky enough to have a job with one of these companies I'd be happy they were not firing my but out the door for screwing things up so badly.

I hope this same backwards logic doesn't eventually become a reason to reward senior staff at GM, Chrysler and Ford after they are bailed out.

The "first loss is the best loss" theory should have been applied to all of these huge dinosaurs! They will all have to be so different in the new economy that emerges from their mess that the skill sets being retained will be virtually useless.

Kathleen   March 18th, 2009 5:13 pm ET

I want to know who took the no bonus pay provision out to the bailouts contract and I want know why. There's been talk about taxing the bonuses at 90% is unconstitutional. But is it constitutional to bailout Arrogant Incompetent Greedy corporations?

Arthur Dingman   March 18th, 2009 5:39 pm ET

Doesn't Geithner look like Landru from the original Star Trek series? he definitely has the same hair. Maybe he was sent here by aliens to take over humanity.

Rich   March 18th, 2009 5:54 pm ET

Time to remove the "tax-exempt" status of institutions such as Harvard, Yale etc. including the "Mormon Church" and "Church of Scientology".........I would like to see how much of the endowments of these instutions were invested in AIG!!

Frank in California   March 18th, 2009 6:03 pm ET

Stop blaming AIG. They did everything that was allowed within the bail-out instructions that were written by the beloved congress that we all voted in. We all take advantage of "loop-holes” that were left there on purpose. Between Dodd and Barney Frank, they all knew!!

On April 15th let’s see if we are all as righteous as we want AIG, or do we look for tax loop-holes?

Obama knew!! They gave AIG the loop-whole.

Kelli from Tampa   March 18th, 2009 6:21 pm ET

We are all going to working for free soon because of unjust loop-holes. (that is called slavery)...I am out of this country...

Kathleen   March 18th, 2009 6:22 pm ET

Stop blaming AIG! are you kidding me? Yes their actions were legal but what about moral and ethical? That's what wrong with this situation. They were too arrogant with their greed. How do anyone justify for getting retention bonuses after running a company to the ground? Since I'm paying for their greed and their unethical behaviors, I have a right so say NO MORE BAILOUTS FOR AIG. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! Those CEOs are nothing but legalize thieves. The labor law say Equal pay for Equal work. They did not meet that standard let along retention bonuses pay.

Kelli from Tampa   March 18th, 2009 6:29 pm ET

Frank, there is a new DSM diagnosis: It is called luxury addicted financial sociopaths. I think you can figure out what the first 3 terms mean...look up sociopath.

Justice for The Righteous   March 18th, 2009 6:52 pm ET

Who are the thiefs and unethicals here, none other than Big Chief Geithner, the tax cheater...called to advocate the AIG CEOs.

Who drafted and sealed and approved the AIG bailout.....?Obama
or Geithner or AIG

Kelli from Tampa   March 18th, 2009 7:04 pm ET

All of the above, but don't forget Bush and Paulson.

Kelli from Tampa   March 18th, 2009 7:05 pm ET

Wonder if Mr. Liddy was having a pedicure or a massage when he wrote this article?

Terry, TX   March 18th, 2009 7:13 pm ET

Did anyone not hear.... it was not Mr. Liddy....did you guys not hear Chris Dodd's confession a couple of hours ago.
How about him going after Chris Dodd...and the Obama Administration ....Congress allowed these bonuses and removed Republican Snowe's provision to prevent the bonuses.

Chris Dodd and the Obama Admin...need to apologize to the CEO who was asked clean up the company at a salary of $1...they are getting death threats...yelled at in Congress.... and really it is Democratic congress who allowed no one to read the 787 Billion Job Porkulus Bill.

Ed - Iowa   March 18th, 2009 7:26 pm ET

Aig has it figured out, just give the Democrats, Obama, 100,000 in campaign funds, plus the other democrats, then the Republicans, McCain, got 60,000. No these politiians are not going to kill the Golden Goose. The problem is we the taxpayers giv hundreds of BILLIONS and they give hundreds of thousands. Is it fair, to a politian it is but to us taxpayers that pay their wages it is criminal.
I would like to hope we could get the money back but I am afaid when everythign shakes out our children will pay for the wall streeters excessive bonus.

Justice for The Righteous   March 18th, 2009 7:43 pm ET

Oops the truth hurts. Congress removed Republican Snowe's provision to prevent the bonuses. Some genius...some Treasurer...
I thought they are going to resurrect the Bush and Cheny Adminstration and blamed that they inherited it..Own up, please?

Kelli from Tampa   March 18th, 2009 8:08 pm ET

Dodd is on the list too.

Ed - Iowa   March 18th, 2009 8:29 pm ET

What is the bet that CNN does NOT report on the 11 non AIG employees that got over 1 million each of our dollars.
Seems like the news media is on the side of the wall streeters.

This is really a rich person resession and the politians are trying to restore the wall streeter's portfolios but could give a damn about our 401k's

John   March 18th, 2009 9:37 pm ET

It was interesting to watch the Love Fest some of the politicians on that committee had with Mr. Liddy. First the Chairman spends an unbelieveable amount of time pointing out how he played no part in this fiasco and the whole problem rests with the AIG CEO's who took advantage of our poor trusting politicians. First of all, Kathleen, Sen. Dodd was forced to take a 180 degree turnabout and admit that he did know about who added that clause which protected these CEO Bonuses and as a matter of fact (after going back and reviewing the facts) he played a personal part in this. He felt that if they didn't allow these bonuses, something much worse would happen (I have no idea what). You have all these politicians going through thise farce claiming outrage over these bonuses yet they are the ones who pushed the legislation through. Funny thing though, I didn't hear any outrage over all the pork that they insisted be included in the bailout and budget which was also included despite the objections of the American People.

Another thing I found interesting is that there are quite a few of these large bonuses in line for payment for the Executives of Fanny and Bernie Mack. I guess we'll just wait until they are paid and it's too late to recover this taxpayer money.

I heard one person commenting on why we aren't handing out pitchforks and gathering in front of the residences and places of business of all these executives. I don't think that is in the psyche of the American People but neither did Marie Antoinette think it possible of the people of France just before they stormed the Bastille.

Robert, Washington State   March 18th, 2009 11:24 pm ET

I am beginning to believe the “change” that President Obama was talking about on the campaign trail is the two cents I will have left from every dollar I earn.

I need to figure out how to get on the other side of this “change” and get the ninety eight cents of what others have earned.

Kathleen   March 19th, 2009 12:51 am ET

Justice for righteous, your President George W. Bush, your candidate McCain along with my President Obama drafted and approved the bailout for AIG. Remember your candidate McCain wanted to cop out from the first debate just to get that done. The bailout really started way before Obama was in the picture. Spring 2008. Stop blaming the Obama administration for everything that happen. He will make mistake because no one is perfect, but at least he is big enough to admit it when that happen. Your party like to sweep things under the carpet and never take any responsibility for anything they do wrong. They call it "the 11 commandment" Thou shall not speak ill of other republican. That is disgraceful and that is the reason why they are on the verge of being extinct just like the dinosaurs.

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