Wednesday, March 18, 2009

AIG again, again

About fifty years ago, I remember my mother telling me how a secretary could provide herself with job insurance. The trick was to reorganize the boss's filing system -- so that she was the only one who ever could find anything. I don't know if my mother ever really employed that system, but when I heard about how the jerkwads at AIG who wrote all those toxic credit default swaps had to be paid retention bonuses because they were the only ones who could figure out the mess they'd created, I wondered if their mothers, too, had worked as secretaries.

Most of America is outraged by the bonuses, but I'm bothered a lot more by the payouts to the banks that bought the CDSs. Yes, I wonder why American taxpayers are bailing out foreign banks, but even more important to me is the question of why the securities insured by AIG were purchased at book value. Who made that decision? Could it possibly have been the very same jerkwads who orchestrated the CDS debacle in the first place, and who now will collect bonuses for "unwinding" the mess they made?

One thing is certain: Geithner, Summers, Bernanke and, yes, Obama all have been entirely too deferential to Wall Street to this point. Unless the President shows some genuine guts and leadership soon, those high approval ratings he's enjoyed so far will plummet like the Dow.

Again, again, again (later)

And so it seems, according to NPR, that Edward N. Liddy, Obama appointed CEO of AIG who testified before Congress today, says the executives who designed and sold the credit default swaps all have been fired -- the guys collecting (or voluntarily giving up part or all of their) "retention" bonus payments in the CDS division are not, perhaps, the same guys who screwed the company and the American taxpayers and the world.

That would appear to sink my "secretary's new filing system" hypothesis -- but it also would appear to sink the "We have to keep them because they're the only ones who understand it" hypothesis. Me, I figure the bullshit still is flying fast and thick. We can't have any names of executives, it seems, because if their names became public they might be strangled with piano wire. (No kidding! That's exactly the justification for secrecy Liddy offered Congress.)

So we must wait, and see, and put our faith in Barney Frank, I guess.

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