AIG, Despite Massive Taxpayer Help, Plummets Further

In goes $182.3 billion of bailouts, out comes $8.9 billion of losses

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AIG, kept alive by $182 billion of taxpayer money, bled $8.4 billion in fourth-quarter losses. This news comes two days after the publication of an unfortunately optimistic Business Week piece that claimed "the company is showing signs of a turnaround." Beyond the shock, business bloggers see worse implications: taxpayers won't be seeing bailout payback any time soon, and may yet have to cough up more cash to keep the struggling insurer afloat.

  • This Is Progress? "If [AIG] is turning around," observers Tiernan Ray on the reported upswing, "this appears not to be the quarter for it." He does notice, however, that the company's foreign life insurance and financial services units showed profits.
  • Bad Losses, but Compare That to the Bailout  $8.9 billion is "the size of AIG's losses this quarter alone, which is laughable," writes Ernie Smith at Shortformblog. $182.3 billion is "the size of the many bailouts the U.S. government has given it." He lets the comparison speak for itself.
  • More 'Good' News  "In addition to the poor earnings," writes Douglas McIntyre at 24/7 Wall St., "AIG said it has decided not to use securitized U.S. life insurance policies to repay the U.S. government." Which means? "This may help the firm's balance sheet but it is a slap at taxpayers." While it's true that AIG is starting to lose money at a slightly slower rate, "the improved results are ... still spectacularly poor."
  • In a Nutshell  "AIG Loses An Insane Amount Of Money, Stock Lower, May Need Yet Even More Government Support To Stay Afloat," reads Joe Weisenthal's headline at Business Insider. "That's pretty much all you need to know about AIG," he explains.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.