AIG: We Don't Need Your Help (For Now)

By Conor Clarke

Does anyone still care about AIG? Probably not. But on the offchance someone out there is still sharpening a pitchfork: CEO Edward Liddy will be back on the hill later today to testify before the House committee on Oversight and Government Reform. I've put his full testimony is at the end of this post.

It's been just about universally reported that Liddy will say AIG doesn't need any more government money (AP, AIG's Liddy: We don't need more government money; ABC, CEO Liddy: No More Bailouts Needed For AIG). That's kind of true, but comes with a pretty big caveat. From Liddy:



WE ARE STABILIZING AIG'S LIQUIDITY SO THAT WE DO NOT NEED SUPPORT BEYOND THOSE AMOUNTS THAT THE GOVERNMENT HAS ALREADY AUTHORIZED, ALTHOUGH AS I HAVE SAID BEFORE THE STATE OF THE ECONOMY WILL BE A FACTOR

(The somewhat terrifying all-caps is from the original.)

I don't think you have to be Jacques Derrida to read this as saying: "We're fine, so long as the economy doesn't get really bad, in which case we might just have to head back to the well." That strikes me as somewhat different from the simple, stoic elegance of, "We're fine."

Otherwise, the only noteworthy snippet from the testimony is one in which Liddy gets a bit defensive about the criticism the company has received:

IT IS CRITICAL THAT WE NOT LOSE SIGHT OF THE FACT THAT [THE GOVERNMENT AND AIG] ARE PARTNERS.  WHEN THE EMPLOYEES OF AIG MAKE MISTAKES, WE EXPECT TO BE CRITICIZED.  BUT RAMPANT, UNWARRANTED CRITICISM OF AIG SERVES ONLY TO DIMINISH THE VALUE OF OUR BUSINESSES AROUND THE WORLD - TO THE DETRIMENT OF OUR SHAREHOLDERS, INCLUDING TAXPAYERS, WHO OWN SOME 80% OF AIG.  

Full testimony is at the bottom. AIG's three government-proxy trustees are also testifying, and are promising big changes to the company's board.

liddy testimony.pdf


This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2009/05/aig-we-dont-need-your-help-for-now/17497/