16 March 2009

AIG -- Bonuses for Failure

I am not sure that anything that I do or I am involved with relies on insurance provided by AIG. So, in that sense I could not give the proverbial rat's arse whether the company stays afloat or not. Then again, it employs a whole lot of people who do not deserve to be without an income because of the incompetence of a couple of top level executives.

Yet, when it is all said and done, AIG still wants to pay its top executives and employees bonuses. Let's put this into perspective. AIG is a company that lost USD 60 billion (I think) last year and has since taken USD 170 billion worth of government bailout money, and there is an expectation that they will need another USD 60 billion just to be sure of not going under.

Yes, punters, that is almost a quarter of a trillion dollars.

This is the kicker for me. AIG is now claiming that it has to pay, as it is legally bound and all, to pay a couple of hundred million dollars in bonuses. That is outrageous! One cannot seriously claim the right to a bonus when your company is losing cash by the bucketful and taking taxpayer money by the bucketful.

The government's rationale for continuing to pump money into AIG is that if it was to fail then the repercussions would be worldwide and send myriad of other companies to the brink of insolvency. Maybe, maybe not.

In any event, the best idea I have heard over the last couple of days, at least on face value (I need to do a little research to see how it would work in the real world), comes from Chris Gardner (Pursuit of Happyness fame), who suggested that the government might be better served by giving every single American (registered voter I think he said) USD 1 million instead of bailing out these banks and financial institutions. The individual cash payments would make a much better financial stimulus package than what has been offered up-to-date.

Global crises - seems we can't live with them and we can't live without them!

No comments: