Friday, May 22, 2009

Maurice Greenberg

- Former CEO of insurance giant AIG!

- Instead of going by a snooty French name, goes by "Hank" -- after baseball great Hammerin' Hank Greenberg!

- Still manages to be described as "brusque" and "arrogant"!

- Board member of the New York Federal Reserve Bank from 1988 to 1995!

- Forced out as CEO of AIG in 2005 -- the result of an accounting-fraud investigation!

- Oversaw the creation of AIG's Financial Products Group!

- Set up the Financial Products Group such that it wasn't subject to the oversight of the AIG board of directors!

- As the largest insurer in the world, AIG depended on limiting its risk exposure!

- Instead, via the Financial Products Group's complex credit default swap (CDS) transactions, the insurer took on massive but uncertain amounts of risk!

- Because AIG was traditionally a very staid, conservative business, its securities were AAA-rated!

- As a result of that high rating, AIG didn't have to put up collateral on CDSs!

- The Financial Products Group also invested in billions of dollars of "toxic" subprime mortgage-backed securities!

- When the housing market crashed, so did the value of AIG's toxic assets!

- When AIG's capital reserves decreased as a result, its credit rating was lowered, CDS counter parties demanded $100 billion in collateral -- and the insurer cratered!

- To date, AIG has been bailed out by taxpayers out to the tune of $180 billion!

- The main beneficiaries of the AIG bailout? CDS counterparties like (wait for it...) Goldman Sachs -- which were paid 100 cents on the dollar of what they were owed!

- Greenberg refuses to accept any blame for AIG's destruction!

- According to Forbes, though, "In the end, Greenberg's legacy will be shabby"!

- Idiot!

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