The Great Debate UK
The federal government's $180 billion effort to prop up American International Group has worked, averting an even bigger financial catastrophe. Now it's time for the Obama administration to oversee the dismantling of the failed insurance giant with all due speed.
A report this week from the Government Accountability Office makes clear that AIG would crumble and likely reignite financial fears around the world without the government's massive support.
And the report says it's "unclear" whether AIG will ever pay back the $121 billion in government assistance that's still coursing through its balance sheet.
The GAO report should provide the administration will all the ammunition it needs to get tough with AIG. The report's conclusions should stiffen the spine of regulators in their dealings with Robert Benmosche, AIG's new $9 million chief executive.
It's time for someone in the Obama administration to read the riot act to Robert Benmosche, American International Group's new $7 million chief executive.
Since getting the job, Benmosche has spent more time at his lavish Croatian villa on the Adriatic coast than at the troubled insurer's corporate offices in New York.
Don't blame global stock markets for being skittish. It is August, after all, a month that has spelled trouble in the past two years.
Recall that, a year ago, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac started wobbling at the precipice while AIG, desperate for cash, began paying junk-like yields in the corporate bond market. A month later, all hell broke loose.
There's lots of money sloshing around the financial system these days. The Federal Reserve has established a target range of 0-0.25 percent for its key rate, bringing it closer to unconventional action to lift the economy out of a year-long recession.
From Washington, the first package aimed at rescuing the credit crisis-hit banking sector amounted to $700 billion. Treasury can use only half of that amount and it has already pledged all but $15 billion of it. The Senate has refused to pass a $14 billion rescue package for Detroit's three major car companies last week, leaving it in the hands of the Bush administration to work out a deal.