Don't Put All Your AIGs in One Basket

James Long
Several times recently, I have been stunned by something I have read in the NY Times: NEWS.

The latest stunner is, “Propping Up a House of Cards," an informative description of the troubles of the most troubled commercial enterprise in the world, American International Group (AIG).  Taxpayers, probably American, appear to be on the hook for up to one-quarter of a trillion dollars to bail out AIG, even though, interestingly enough, the damage was done primarily in the London office of AIG.

AIG will not be allowed to collapse because of the worldwide financial destruction that would ensue. That would be in addition to the $40+ trillion, and counting, financial destruction we have already seen.  Lehman Brothers, minute in comparison to AIG, was allowed to collapse and the collateral damage was devastating. Never again! ... or at least that is the argument.

Long story short, AIG used its sterling AAA business rating and its cozy relationship with regulators to sell unregulated insurance products covering the futures of what turned out to be toxic mortgages (Lots. Of. Toxic. Mortgages).  The AIG insurance products allowed banks and such (Lots. Of. Banks. And. Such.) to treat all those toxic mortgages as if they were AAA rated, since AAA-rated AIG insured the mortgages. 

The business was very profitable and the risk of a mass mortgage meltdown was considered negligible, so negligible that AIG did not bother to put aside reserves for the possibility that those toxic mortgages might go south.  Sit down, fasten your seat belt, and read the whole thing.  A stiff drink or a couple of damnitalls before you start reading might help if you are of a nervous disposition.


Not once in the article did the NYT try to blame President Bush for the AIG difficulties, as they have been wont to do in previous stories about toxic mortgages.  Of course, neither did they blame President Obama and the Democrats, who actually invented government-backed toxic mortgages.  But I will gladly settle for objectivity, and it is a welcome change from the far-left, rosy-colored propagandizing one has come to expect from the NY Times.  

That glimmer of objectivity from the NYT, in itself, may be as big a story as AIG; and more important, it could be the beginning of a rational debate about all of these bailouts and stimuli.


Several times recently, I have been stunned by something I have read in the NY Times: NEWS.

The latest stunner is, “Propping Up a House of Cards," an informative description of the troubles of the most troubled commercial enterprise in the world, American International Group (AIG).  Taxpayers, probably American, appear to be on the hook for up to one-quarter of a trillion dollars to bail out AIG, even though, interestingly enough, the damage was done primarily in the London office of AIG.

AIG will not be allowed to collapse because of the worldwide financial destruction that would ensue. That would be in addition to the $40+ trillion, and counting, financial destruction we have already seen.  Lehman Brothers, minute in comparison to AIG, was allowed to collapse and the collateral damage was devastating. Never again! ... or at least that is the argument.

Long story short, AIG used its sterling AAA business rating and its cozy relationship with regulators to sell unregulated insurance products covering the futures of what turned out to be toxic mortgages (Lots. Of. Toxic. Mortgages).  The AIG insurance products allowed banks and such (Lots. Of. Banks. And. Such.) to treat all those toxic mortgages as if they were AAA rated, since AAA-rated AIG insured the mortgages. 

The business was very profitable and the risk of a mass mortgage meltdown was considered negligible, so negligible that AIG did not bother to put aside reserves for the possibility that those toxic mortgages might go south.  Sit down, fasten your seat belt, and read the whole thing.  A stiff drink or a couple of damnitalls before you start reading might help if you are of a nervous disposition.


Not once in the article did the NYT try to blame President Bush for the AIG difficulties, as they have been wont to do in previous stories about toxic mortgages.  Of course, neither did they blame President Obama and the Democrats, who actually invented government-backed toxic mortgages.  But I will gladly settle for objectivity, and it is a welcome change from the far-left, rosy-colored propagandizing one has come to expect from the NY Times.  

That glimmer of objectivity from the NYT, in itself, may be as big a story as AIG; and more important, it could be the beginning of a rational debate about all of these bailouts and stimuli.