Bailout beneficiary A.I.G. may say "thank you, America" by suing the government

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31 Responses to “Bailout beneficiary A.I.G. may say "thank you, America" by suing the government”

  1. mesocosm says:

    My favorite part is that the amount these banks are seeking from the government is in excess of the lenient $18.5 billion settlement a consortium of banks agreed to just the other day. I don’t believe AIG was part of that settlement, but still the timing is pretty classy.

    More on that settlement:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2013/jan/07/us-banks-settlement-mortgage-crisis

  2. Roose_Bolton says:

    My incredulity just achieved sentience, and is about to embark on a kill-crazy rampage.

  3. Chuck says:

    So, basically, those shareholders are the kid in your class who trash-talked you around school after you helped them with their math homework.

    • lknope says:

       Ha!  Or complained about being hungry after stealing your lunch and scarfing it down in front of your face.

    • Fnordius says:

      Or single shareholder in this case. This Greenberg character got canned for running AIG aground, and is pissed that the government  prevented him from absconding with the remaining assets. The read I get is that the new board doesn’t want to get involved, but since this Greenberg idiot is still a shareholder they have to give it careful consideration just to cover their asses.

      I see this as akin to those petitions to the White House that go over 25k signatures and require a full response.

  4. xzzy says:

    I wonder how much evil moustache twirling was going on when the board elected to go down this route. I bet they convinced themselves that releasing a warm and fuzzy image boosting corporate message would divert attention away from them joining the lawsuit.

    Then they pick up a paper this morning and scan the headlines. 

    “Curses! Foiled again!”

  5. Jeff says:

    According to FOIA requests, the bailouts were not an option for many banks.  

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/30750868/ns/business-stocks_and_economy/t/documents-paulson-forced-banks-bailout/

    While AIG is not part of this group of 9, it is at least possible that AIG was strongarmed as well.  That’s not necessarily something to be thankful for.

    • jackbird says:

      Since AIG was actually insolvent due to the CDOs it issued, I’m certain this was not the case

    • Tribune says:

      So when do we sue the banks for creating the sub-prime catastrophe or the losses in my non bank investments from the impact it had on the economy?

      • xzzy says:

        Right about the time you’re a billionaire.. nothing encourages people to listen to what you have to say like a giant pile of cash.

        So good luck!

      • mccrum says:

        I’m pretty sure we should counter sue their lawsuit and see how it goes for them.

      • Marc Mielke says:

        Where you say ‘sue’ I want to say ‘hang’. Things might be worse right after bankers swing from every lamppost down Wall Street, but maybe the next guys wouldn’t be as bad. The way we did do things guarantees the same guys that screwed up before know they can get away with the same thing again and again. 

    • Navin_Johnson says:

      Not even:

      1. AIG came desperate to the US government for a rescue, and a whopper at that. The Federal government has no oversight responsibility for AIG, which oh by the way, just happens to have very large overseas operations (in other words, one could take the position that AIG’s problems, for a whole host of reasons, are really not the Federal government’s problem). However, having seen the disruption that the collapse of Lehman caused, and knowing that AIG was a substantial and unhedged writer of credit default swaps, the powers that be were worried that a bankruptcy could be cataclysmic.Read more at http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2008/11/aig-looting-continues.html#OgXsL3Gc8C6KWvX3.99

      And much more on AIG

  6. angusm says:

    Will the shareholders also be suing AIG’s senior executives for writing off most of the value of their shares by making criminally-irresponsible decisions? Because I’d join that lawsuit.

  7. cegev says:

    The lawsuit at this point is being brought by an individual shareholder, the former CEO.

    As the article notes, the AIG board really has to consider joining the lawsuit, as there could be liable to other shareholders if they dismissed it without consideration and then the suit was successful. I don’t see this as reflecting poorly on AIG. This is the same as, say, a city council “considering” whether to do something ridiculous because someone brought them a ridiculous petition forcing them to consider it. It’s worth noting that, if I recall correctly, the US government is a very large shareholder of AIG.

    The former CEO, on the other hand…

  8. mrmcd says:

    Dealbreaker has an explanation about why this not as bad as it looks: http://dealbreaker.com/2013/01/aigs-directors-will-spend-tomorrow-pretending-that-they-might-sue-the-government/

    Basically, Hank Greenberg is a big stupid baby because he got fired and lost a bunch of money in the AIG bailout due to his own spectacular incompetence, and he’s also an asshole. 

    The rest is a kabuki dance for Delaware corporate law so that Greenberg can’t accuse the AIG board of corruption. The real winners here are the lawyers getting paid tons of money to listen to this rich guys temper tantrum. 

    • jerwin says:

      Very Interesting. Sounds like it’s a matter of keeping your distance, but not looking like you’re keeping your distance. Sigh.

  9. bluest_one says:

    Corporations are sociopaths.

  10. blissfulight says:

    I’ll bet Obama is feeling pretty stupid right about now, not having put a bunch of bankers in prison.  Granted, he is stupid for not doing that, but I think the feeling has been missing for awhile.  By not going after the bankers, he also helped breathe life into the Tea Baggers (or at least blew on the embers that sustained their fire), and he lent the bankers the sense that not only are they too big to fail, but that they’re still masters of the universe–he should feel doubly stupid for feeding their arrogance.  

    Well, back to more important issues:  killing women and children with drone missiles (war crimes); arguing with Congress over cliffs and debt ceilings and trillion dollar platinum coins; prosecuting medical marijuana advocates; nominating a war criminal to oversee the CIA; cutting but not really cutting the Pentagon’s budget; cutting programs that benefit the poor and elderly to save programs that benefit the rich and powerful; hiding behind the cloak of state secrets; negotiating with himself; being a moral coward.  You know, important stuff.  

    • Navin_Johnson says:

      He’s willingly filled his administration with a bunch of Grima Wormtongue’s from high finance. It truly illustrates how disgusting these sociopathic bankers are that they still have the brass balls to complain considering how friendly to them he’s been.  They. want. it. ALL, all the wealth in this country, and nothing will ever satisfy their greed.

  11. Kl-0 says:

    A corporate board of directors, under most American law (and presumably Delaware law here), owes its shareholder fiduciary duties including the duty of loyalty, and the duty of reasonable care. As part of these duties,  if the board of directors wishes to avoid personal liability, they must often consider derivative shareholder suits (which I think is what this suit is, I haven’t read the articles), even if they ultimately dismiss them as being improper. This is a super annoying and complicated area of law (in my view anyways, some people love this stuff), and it is entirely possible (even likely in my view) that the board recognizes the backlash which would occur by joining such a suit, but they are required to examine the issue as part of their duties to the shareholders. My point being, I would not personally get huffy about this at the moment, and in fact think it is a complete non-issue. If you want to read more about fiduciary duties find the Gorkam v. Van Camp case on Wikipedia (as a general starting point) as well as maybe the “Business Judgment Rule” and “Derivative Suit”. Again, this stuff is kind of super complicated, and I am only writing extremely generally…

  12. Eark_the_Bunny says:

    I have an idea for AIG, what say we just go back to the start.  You folks can just give us back the 205 billion dollars we gave you to save your sorry asses and then just let AIG sink into the large smoking hole like it was going to before we helped.

  13. bolamig says:

    “Thank you” is just a passive aggressive phrase that makes taking things sound polite.

  14. So, it’s just me who was convinced that guy in the top photo was John Goodman?

  15. Evan Eaks says:

    I say, “let the anti-trust lawsuits begin then.”  Too big to fail used to mean you were split up into smaller entities.  Let them go the way of Ma-Bell.

    • CastanhasDoPara says:

       In a long circuitous path that ultimately leads to three or four giant pseudo-monopolies instead of one? (Really, why is my phone bill still too damn high? It’s not because the service is that much better or the infrastructure is seeing meaningful improvement. It’s because the greedy fucks know they are one of three guys in town that can hook you up with a service that you HAVE to have, so something that should be dirt cheap and good actually sucks and is onerously costly for what you get. A racket is still a racket if it’s one company or a handful of colluded cutouts.)

      What you really want is real anti-trust action or to have just let these behemoths collapse in spectacular fashion (with attendant bad things for a lot of normal people but that would pass eventually and out of the dust things might get back to a real normal instead of some ridiculous “new normal”). Also, some regulation with real teeth might be something to consider too.

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