Latest Posts

  • Ask Ben Bernanke a Simple Question, Ben Bernanke Gives You a Simple Hey Look at That Walrus

    benbernankeFederal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke was on Capitol Hill today, testifying before the Senate Budget Committee. The official theme of the hearing was "Economic and Budget Challenges for the Short and Long Term," which, let me check… yes. We have those.

    Luckily we also have Ben Bernanke's trademark straightforwardness

    “Mr. Chairman,” Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, asked at the outset, “at what point will the taxpayer no longer be on the hook for the massive A.I.G. failure? What is the end game for American taxpayers?”

    Mr. Bernanke replied that nothing had made him more angry during the months of the sprawling financial crisis than the episode involving the insurance giant that has reported astronomical losses and has been given financial lifelines worth billions of dollars.

    “A.I.G. exploited a huge gap in the regulatory system,” Mr. Bernanke said. “There was no oversight of the financial products division. This was a hedge fund, basically, that was attached to a large and stable insurance company.” And this quasi-hedge fund, Mr. Bernanke went on, to nobody’s surprise, made irresponsible bets and took huge losses.

    Uh, okay. So can we assume next Thursday for the taxpayer-off-the-hook thing?

    Because next Thursday's good for me.

    Tags: AIG, Ben Bernanke, Economy, Ron Wyden, Senate
  • AIG Executives Receive Random Sacks of Cash but Absolutely No Bonuses

    Troubled insurance giant– hey, let's see if we can't find a better intro. Totally hosed insurance failure (there we go!) AIG has received over $152 billion in rescue money from the federal government, so elected officials are keeping close tabs on the company's spending habits as it tries to get back on its feet.

    And how is that going?

    American International Group Inc., the insurer whose bonuses and perks are under fire from U.S. lawmakers, offered cash awards to another 38 executives in a retention program with payments of as much as $4 million.

    The incentives range from $92,500 to $4 million for employees earning salaries between $160,000 and $1 million, Chief Executive Officer Edward Liddy said in a letter dated Dec. 5 to Representative Elijah Cummings. The New York-based insurer had previously disclosed that 130 managers would get the awards and that one executive would get $3 million.

    Whoa, whoa, hold your fire, lawmakers. These payouts are part of a "retention program," not bonus packages and perks. It says so right there. AIG wouldn't be scraping together money for a "retention program" if a "retention program" weren't important.

    AIG disclosed the initial list of 130 managers in a September filing without saying how much most of the recipients will get. Another 38 people were added "subsequently," according to Liddy's letter, which didn't disclose the new recipients or say when they had been added.

    The list was expanded so AIG can retain people with "key client relationships" and who have a high "degree of flight risk," Liddy wrote. He cited their "deep experience, extremely valuable business relationships, and unique ties to the many local communities where they live and work."

    Well, that makes sense. It would be a terrible shame to lose the managers who have done such a fantastic job running AIG thus far, especially when the company risks losing them to rival firms.

    Or South America.

    Tags: AIG, Economy
  • From the Pork Barrel: Turns Out Torture's Bad For You After All

    * Pulling out of the running for Director of the CIA must be torture for John Brennan.

    * Secretary of Defense Robert Gates only known American to keep job through the year.

    * AIG isn't blowing money like it's coke. AIG is still blowing money like it's coke.

    * Assumption confirmed: Republicans like assholes.

    * GOP ad man went out of his way to avoid racism in anti-Obama ads. How racist!

    * Michael Bloomberg sticking around this shithole we call New York City after all.

    * Wanna hear a good one? McCain 2012.

    Tags: AIG, Barack Obama, CIA, John Brennan, John McCain, Michael Bloomberg, New York, Obama Administration, Pork Barrel, Rahm Emanuel, Robert Gates