In the history of the republic no company has been more reckless nor received more government favor than AIG.
The company’s ridiculous investment strategy of selling credit default swaps to everyone – betting that housing prices would never go down, ever – meant that without a bailout not only would the firm go down, they would take down a slew of other firms. This total disregard for risk by those in the risk management business was the justification for unprecedented bailouts by Congress and the Federal Reserve.
Then, after getting that bailout for being reckless and stupid, AIG paid themselves bonuses. An act that crystallized for the many the sociopathic and parasitic nature of Wall Street. But according to AIG’s CEO, Robert Benmosche, the banksters were the real victims.
AIG CEO Robert Benmosche says opposition to the insurer’s bonuses in the wake of the financial crisis five years ago was like lynchings during the battle over civil rights.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal published Tuesday, Benmosche dismissed the criticism of bonuses saying the uproar “was intended to stir public anger, to get everybody out there with their pitch forks and their hangman nooses, and all that – sort of like what we did in the Deep South [decades ago]. And I think it was just as bad and just as wrong.”
This is so perfectly Wall Street. The total lack of shame, the total inability to see themselves in any way wrong, and the claim that they are somehow the true victims. These are the sociopaths in charge of the American economy – people who will never see themselves as guilty, no matter what they do.
In March of 2009 it was revealed that AIG had paid out $165 million in bonus payments to its various executives, including 73 getting more than $1 million each, sparking a backlash in Washington.
My history is a little fuzzy because I must have missed the part where during those lynchings in the deep south the black men were not strung up but given a million dollars by the mob and sent on their way.
Photo by Sphilbrick under Creative Commons license.