Someone who works in OTC derivatives sends this note in answer to my wondering whether the AIG Financial Products Division traders were really so good at their jobs that we ought to pay them huge sums of money to keep them on the job:

Most CDS are straight forward and are summed up in a 2 page trade ticket that typically contains all the info you need get a grasp on the trade.

HOWEVER, the insurer-backed CDS trades (AIG-style trades) tend to be based on very large portfolios of assets, and are diligence intensive. They also contain atypical terms which means that even if you're a market expert, you have to pay close attention to the swap documents and the underlying portfolio of assets in order to understand the deal. So, in defense of AIG, it's not as if they can simply hire new people and bring them up to speed overnight. Also, at this stage of the game, there are probably various workouts in place for a lot of trades that have long stories attached to them.

In short, getting a new team in place could actually be a problem simply from a logistical perspective, even if we ignore the forced lower pay alla Uncle Sam and potential lynching by tax payers.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.