How Do You Spell 'Stupid?' A-I-G
With great pride, we hereby enshrine American International Group
Never in the field of corporate folly has a single company been worthy of so much ridicule and at the expense of so many. For all the asinine things AIG has done for us, we elevate it into the highest circle of idiots.
To commemorate this special occasion, and with the hope that AIG's pratfalls provide us with column fodder for years to come, we offer you AIG's dumbest highlights that have recently come to light.
AIG, which was saved from bankruptcy by $170 billion in federal bailout funds, revealed that it paid $220 million in "retention" awards to its financial products employees, the very same unit responsible for selling the risky credit default swaps that drove the company to the brink of bankruptcy.
Edward Liddy, the CEO of AIG, justified the hefty bonuses in a letter to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner dated Saturday saying that AIG needs them to "attract and retain the best and brightest talent."If that weren't galling enough, AIG granted bonuses of $1 million or more to each of 73 employees, including 11 who no longer work for the company, according to New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.
Dumbness, in its severe forms, is contagious, and AIG is the equivalent of the plague. Hence, more fodder for the company's entrance into the Hall of Fame. Get this: In a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Geithner defended his inability to prevent the bonus payments from AIG, now 80% owned by the U.S. government, saying the Treasury's "lawyers agreed, in consultation with outside counsel, that it would be legally difficult to prevent these contractually-mandated payments."
And still more are now infected: On Monday, Goldman Sachs
Yo, Chuck. We like your attitude. Only one problem: Unless these AIG execs have life insurance policies with the U.S. Treasury as beneficiary, that option -- while pleasant to ponder -- won't work.
Dumb-o-meter score: 100 -- Take a bow, AIG. You earned that perfect score.