Re: AIG

1

I must admit I've assumed that the point of the meeting is for AIG's board to make a record that, as fiduciaries to AIG's shareholders, they have given full consideration to the prospect of suing the government. Very thoughtful consideration indeed. Nay, verily, they have researched the question exhaustively, agonized over it, and lost sleep. And then in the careful exercise of their business judgment they have concluded that (as was more or less obvious from the beginning) it would be stupid.

That is, I think this is an process exercise in making it harder for Greenberg to sue the board (which several articles I have seen mention as a possibility), rather than the board giving real substantive consideration to doing something. And I have assumed that the reporters covering this either don't understand what is really going or are ignoring that reality in the interest of a good story.

But, we'll see what they actually do, I guess.


Posted by: widget | Link to this comment | 01- 9-13 9:14 AM
horizontal rule
2

The short version is that AIG is thinking about suing the government, those assholes.

But the longer version is that they think that they have a legal obligation to consider what to do about the suit that their booted former CEO has already brought against the government. Put that way, it seems far less exciting and more like, um, yeah, that seems sort of obvious and professional, doesn't it?

Not nearly as interesting in headlines, though.


Posted by: Sarah Wynde | Link to this comment | 01- 9-13 9:16 AM
horizontal rule
3

"Thinking about"? Meh. It's a proposal with potentially significant financial implications; they almost have to think about it. Surely one of the major issues to be discussed on their call with shareholders today will be "this would make us look like giant assholes, is that really a good idea?"

If, after thinking about it, they decide to join the lawsuit, then yes: what assholes, indeed. (No real surprise though, right?)


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 01- 9-13 9:16 AM
horizontal rule
4

They are still assholes, even if they don't join. Even if they never even considered it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01- 9-13 9:30 AM
horizontal rule
5

Too many active threads!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01- 9-13 9:39 AM
horizontal rule
6

Aw, you're just saying that to make me feel good!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01- 9-13 9:51 AM
horizontal rule
7

3.last would be my read. However, I am semi-fascinated and mostly ignorant about the actual limits of fiduciary responsibility. (For me this at Professor Bainbridge was an accessible write-up.)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01- 9-13 9:52 AM
horizontal rule
8

6: I always like to make the FPP feel good who I think needs it most.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01- 9-13 9:53 AM
horizontal rule
9

7: I do await the day when I as a run-of-the-mill employee am required to do work on behalf of a political candidate or cause that my employer judges to be in its fiduciary interest. Probably while being paid, but maybe even on my own time!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01- 9-13 9:55 AM
horizontal rule
10

I do indeed need it today. I've been up for 9 hours straight and haven't yet been productive, and it's only 11 am. My windshield wipers broke while dropping the kids off at daycare in the rain. I had to take a busy street home, with the broken windshield wiper, because of a detour, because of an electrical fire at a frat house, because of the rain. I'm super duper tired and cranky beyond all reason.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01- 9-13 10:02 AM
horizontal rule
11

And I'm having an unpleasant wardrobe malfunction involving a pokey underwire on a new bra that I just spent too much money on.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01- 9-13 10:03 AM
horizontal rule
12

I'm super duper tired and cranky beyond all reason

No, no, you clearly are well within reason to be this tired.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 01- 9-13 10:04 AM
horizontal rule
13

Long shot, but would the wire from the bra be of any use at fixing the wiper?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01- 9-13 10:04 AM
horizontal rule
14

And acid reflux problems.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01- 9-13 10:05 AM
horizontal rule
15

Sounds like someone is not really understanding the whole "Makers vs. Takers" thing.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 01- 9-13 10:06 AM
horizontal rule
16

13 made me laugh, though.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01- 9-13 10:06 AM
horizontal rule
17

13: God works outside-the-box. (I guess that would "in mysterious ways" in Pre-CorpSpeak.)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01- 9-13 10:16 AM
horizontal rule
18

14: The second trimester is fun, isn't it?


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01- 9-13 10:21 AM
horizontal rule
19

Outside-the-cup.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01- 9-13 10:21 AM
horizontal rule
20

18: I keep feeling like I'm much further along than I actually am! This part isn't supposed to be so tiring and unpleasant.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01- 9-13 10:24 AM
horizontal rule
21

I am semi-fascinated and mostly ignorant about the actual limits of fiduciary responsibility

Me too. Isn't there a book that covers this? I seem to recall one being recommended here and elsewhere. Something like "Thinking like a corporation"? (But probably not anything near that imagined title, as my mind is surely grabbing at a template and trying to make it fit.)


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 01- 9-13 10:25 AM
horizontal rule
22

And as long as I'm complaining, I'm super anxious about the next two months, which involve:
- Jammies going out of town twice
- teaching a slight overload, insofar as one of my classes is meeting for extended class length, and will finish up before I go on maternity leave, and my other classes are regular length
- 6 campus visits for various search committees, each with 24-48 hours of dinners/airport pick-ups/etc of chaperoning candidates. Not that I'm doing all of that but it will be a lot of work
- various extra-curricular activities where I've agreed to way more than I should have, including three "co-curricular not-for-credit courses" and a camping trip.
- the two small children
- the upcoming third trimester
- me feeling extremely, extremely self-pitying while lying awake in bed all night.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01- 9-13 10:28 AM
horizontal rule
23

Lynn Stout, The Myth of Shareholder Value. I believe Nick S read and like it, it's short though not extremely well written. The idea that there is a single fiduciary obligation to enforce "shareholder value" (whatever that is) is just that, a myth.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01- 9-13 10:31 AM
horizontal rule
24

23 to 21.


Posted by: RH | Link to this comment | 01- 9-13 10:31 AM
horizontal rule
25

Also 1 was my take, as well.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01- 9-13 10:33 AM
horizontal rule
26

I have also read it, and also endorse it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01- 9-13 10:34 AM
horizontal rule
27

I believe Nick S read and like it, it's short though not extremely well written.

I did, and would recommend it to others, even though I agree it isn't particularly well written.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 01- 9-13 10:34 AM
horizontal rule
28

Lynn Stout, The Myth of Shareholder Value

That's it! Just ordered it. Thanks!


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 01- 9-13 10:46 AM
horizontal rule
29

21: I've also been meaning to read Richard Powers's novel Gain. Started it once but got bogged down (I find he has interesting ideas, but really is not much of a writer (see Goldbug Variations)). This is an interesting write-up on it.

ichard Powers' recent novel, Gain, is, in my surmise, the most fully realized contemporary American novel of life in the epoch of corporations, mapping the nineteenth-century rise of the peculiar entity of corporate bodies, the twentieth-century habitat brought to us by our corporate sponsors, and what consequence that habitat has on individual people living in Y2K America.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01- 9-13 11:34 AM
horizontal rule
30

23: The idea that there is a single fiduciary obligation to enforce "shareholder value" (whatever that is) is just that, a myth.

Well, sure.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01- 9-13 11:38 AM
horizontal rule
31

I have all of Powers' books and heave read him since his 1st. That said, I do bounce off of a number of them. Gain was one I found easier to read. The one that was easiest to read (for me) was Prisoners Dilemma. But in both these cases it might be that familiarity with the topics made it easier to read. I do love Gain.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 01- 9-13 11:46 AM
horizontal rule
32

31: I found The Echo Maker to be the easiest read, Prisoners Dilemma probably next, but for some reason I had an ongoing level of annoyance with the whole premise. I do give him credit for his willingness to try different stuff, however.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01- 9-13 11:49 AM
horizontal rule
33

I found all the history stuff in Gain really enjoyable, while the present-day storyline was like eating a pile of cardboard.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 01- 9-13 11:54 AM
horizontal rule
34

I like Gain a lot, mostly, but yeah, the present-day storyline was kind of just so.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 01- 9-13 12:35 PM
horizontal rule
35

(I'm sure I've said here that we gave a copy of Galatea 2.2 to CA's brother for Xmas one year. That very Xmas morn the brother was dumped by his longtime gf, a woman raised in North America, but of Dutch descent, and who had recently been living in the Netherlands and growing into a new identity as a Dutch person. So that must have been fun.)


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 01- 9-13 12:39 PM
horizontal rule
36

The wooden shoes changed her.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01- 9-13 12:46 PM
horizontal rule
37

35 should have had a spoiler alert, I guess.

36: That or the salty licorice.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 01- 9-13 12:51 PM
horizontal rule
38

Stroopwafels made me more than I was before.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01- 9-13 1:07 PM
horizontal rule
39

Yves Smith goes at everybody involved with AIG with Maximal Schadenfreude

And remember also, Starr's counsel David Boies cut his teeth on the IBM antitrust suit, which lasted the better part of a decade. He's been through extremely protracted, complex litigation before.

So what might Greenberg and Boies be planning? Well if I were in their shoes, I'd try to make this case o embarrassing to the government that they are willing to pay to make it go away. Merely making it costly (like 16 million page document requests) probably is not sufficient in and of itself. If Starr can persuade the judge to keep the records unsealed, and gets embarrassing material about how the government handled the rescues into the public domain, this could be great theater, and would also let us see how much of what has been fed to folks like Sorkin was accurate. That means keeping it in the spotlight during Obama's term, since his successor wouldn't suffer from any revelations.

And just imagine, if this goes to court, Boies will almost certainly seek to put Paulson, Geithner and Bernanke on the stand. I don't see how Geithner, as a private citizen, could refuse; if Bernanke is reappointed, he might escape (judges tend to show some deference in calling top executives and officials to testify if less senior people have enough knowledge to appear in their place).

Put it another way: if you thought Geithner squirmed when Elizabeth Warren grilled him, you haven't seen anything till Boies has a go at him. That alone is reason to look on this suit with more sympathy than it otherwise deserves: it will lead any successor bailouter in chief to be a lot more careful and demanding when he shovels out cash to wards of the state.

Hate deeply, but especially widely.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 9-13 1:17 PM
horizontal rule
40

Since I put Smith's thrilling conclusion in the last comment, I probably should also give her lead. The details and data are in between, and she knows her stuff. Long hard read, of course.

Never underestimate the greed of a billionaire. But I have to say separately that I will thoroughly enjoy the pigfight between former AIG chief Hank Greenberg's C.V. Starr (now the biggest shareholder in AIG) versus the Federal government over the rescue of AIG. Any cost and embarrassment that the Administration suffers will be the direct result of the Bush-Obama policies of being concerned only about saving financial players rather than meting out any punishments, and for being incompetent negotiators.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01- 9-13 1:23 PM
horizontal rule
41

My boss has acquired a nerf machine gun to keep on his desk. He probably thinks this is cool and startup-y. I am more concerned by the revelation that he sees the office as a field of fire.

(well, actually he doesn't. I pointed out that it doesn't quite have the range to put a choke point between him and sales in its beaten-zone, so by the time he engages, the front has widened out and if the salesmen mean it, a simultaneous rush from both flanks will get him. further, down his left flank there is significant cover from both view and fire that is accessible from outside the area he can expect to command with fire.)


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 01- 9-13 1:26 PM
horizontal rule
42

Does bringing in David Boies mean we have to talk about the Elizabeth Wurtzel piece? More threads! More threads! (No more twist.)


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 01- 9-13 1:26 PM
horizontal rule
43

Mind you, if I meant it, I'd plant a Nerf IED next to the railway line he commutes on. You can get Nerf IEDs, surely?


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 01- 9-13 1:31 PM
horizontal rule
44

43: If you buy one does it still count as improvised?


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 01- 9-13 1:35 PM
horizontal rule
45

I'm torn between looking up the Wurtzel piece to find out what people are talking about or deciding on the basis of commentary I've seen on the Wurtzel piece that it's not worth reading if I haven't already read it and don't know who Wurtzel is.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 01- 9-13 1:42 PM
horizontal rule
46

I have just realised that 41/43 are much less funny in the US. Sorry.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 01- 9-13 2:35 PM
horizontal rule
47

I read 42 and thought, wow, Elizabeth Wurtzel wrote something notable about a subject other than herself? And then I googled, and, of course not.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 01- 9-13 2:41 PM
horizontal rule
48

I don't know if this helps you, but I found them funny.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 01- 9-13 2:42 PM
horizontal rule
49

47: But weren't you impressed that she went to Yale Law School for fun? That makes her even crazier than I thought she was, and that barely seemed possible.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 01- 9-13 2:50 PM
horizontal rule
50

I hope Yves is right.

I think the perceived assholery of this AIG discussion is tied to their concurrent wave of self-congratulatory Thanks ads


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01- 9-13 2:52 PM
horizontal rule
51

The result, for anyone who is curious:

The AIG Board has determined to refuse Starr's demand in its entirety, and will neither pursue these claims itself nor permit Starr to pursue them in AIG's name.

AIG expects to file with the courts a formal statement detailing the Board's determination and the reasons underlying it in the coming weeks.

From AIG's website.


Posted by: widget | Link to this comment | 01- 9-13 3:17 PM
horizontal rule
52

What assholes!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01- 9-13 5:59 PM
horizontal rule
53

But weren't you impressed that she went to Yale Law School for fun? That makes her even crazier than I thought she was, and that barely seemed possible.

Hardly; from what I hear, YLS is lots of fun. It's not like they force you to learn law if you go there; they don't even give you grades. It's almost certainly the most fun you can have at a law school even if you are planning to compete for legal jobs afterwards, and she obviously wasn't.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 01- 9-13 6:40 PM
horizontal rule
54

(I'm exaggerating only slightly about the lack of grades, for those who don't know how it works there.)

And I'll concede that "almost certainly the most fun you can have at a law school" is damning by faint praise.

What is crazy is that it seems like she spent all her savings doing it--if she could get into YLS at all, she could probably have gotten a full ride at NYU, and I know from experience that they're not exactly short on fun interdisciplinary stuff there--but since she doesn't get into the details, who knows.

I'm actually really pissed at her for, as I put it in an email, giving such an unsympathetic face, and in such a high-profile way, to some sorta legitimate issues--at least, legitimate when they're experienced by people who aren't her.

Eliza/beth Bach/ner's columns, for example, are often about the troubles and rewards of a life lived with passion but without roots; but since she's not a narcissist, she deals with these topics in a way that's actually worth reading. (FWIW, I bet a lot of Unfogged readers would like EB's stuff.)


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 01- 9-13 6:49 PM
horizontal rule
55

no lawsuit joining AIG announce


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 01- 9-13 7:52 PM
horizontal rule
56

syntax standard not so much


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01- 9-13 8:22 PM
horizontal rule
57

bathroom situation worse egg plastic cup send


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 01- 9-13 8:28 PM
horizontal rule
58

novel sex act urple announce


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01- 9-13 8:29 PM
horizontal rule
59

bean thing bean thing repeat


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01- 9-13 8:31 PM
horizontal rule
60

51, 55: pwned but pithier urple rebut


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01- 9-13 8:31 PM
horizontal rule
61

stall open private fist pump


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01- 9-13 8:36 PM
horizontal rule
62

bar trillion dollar bill has on shelf


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01- 9-13 8:36 PM
horizontal rule
63

and so to bed


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01- 9-13 9:08 PM
horizontal rule
64

I read 42 and thought, wow, Elizabeth Wurtzel wrote something notable about a subject other than herself? And then I googled, and, of course not.

I edited the Wurtzel piece quoted here (scroll to the bottom). The draft was a total mess. After a couple of hours, I still couldn't extract a coherent point from it. But that lede! We didn't get that sort of salacious copy every day!


Posted by: Franklin D. Roosevelt '04 | Link to this comment | 01-10-13 5:24 AM
horizontal rule
65

Did anyone hear read the novel Capital? And please let this comment not be blocked.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 01-10-13 6:04 AM
horizontal rule
66

40 and 50 strike me as backwards, verging on nonsensically backwards. The Greenburg/Starr lawsuit against the government is that the federal government were big greedy meanies for seizing the bulk of the company in exchange for preventing their collapse; that was the right approach and, when it didn't serve as a stick with which to beat Obama, Yves was correctly calling for it to be applied to some of the Too Big to Fail banks (as were Krugman and others).


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 01-10-13 12:08 PM
horizontal rule
67

Re: 66, I see (reading the actual post) that Yves' actual argument strikes me as much more informed and well-grounded than those paragraphs would indicate out-of-context.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 01-10-13 12:15 PM
horizontal rule
68

67:Damn, I merely quoted the lead paragraphs and conclusion, linked and recommended reading the post in its entirety,and still managed to get it completely wrong, even backwards! That's talent.

Vindictive little shit.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01-10-13 2:33 PM
horizontal rule
69

68: It did in fact inspire me to click through and read the whole article after I posted about my confusion, and the article was interesting. So in all seriousness, a job well done.

(For those interested in the spat here, which is likely to be a vanishingly small group of people that doesn't even include me or Bob, I was confused because I read Yves as being supportive of billionaire fuckward Hank Greenberg's lawsuit, which struck me as weird. Instead, in the parts that weren't quoted, she lays out briefly why she thinks the suit is wholly without merit and Greenberg should go choke on a sack of dicks, which I 100% agree with. Why she thinks that Boies will humiliate Geithner on the stand for being too solicitous of AIG in a suit about how the government was not protective enough of AIG is a leap I can't quite follow, but she has a lot of information about AIG's repeated trips to the well of government cash that I was only dimly aware of.)


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 01-10-13 2:49 PM
horizontal rule
70

billionaire fuckward Hank Greenberg's

The baseball player that my grandmother dated?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-10-13 2:56 PM
horizontal rule
71

Sadly no, Heebie - I believe it's a childhood nickname that he adopted in order to make a pass at your grandma.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 01-10-13 2:57 PM
horizontal rule
72

Oh god, the Wurtzel article, linked approvingly on my Fcebook feed. Christ, what an asshole.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01-10-13 3:18 PM
horizontal rule
73

This train is stopped at a "Preserve America community", according to the sign, which sounds like some kinda creepy racist thing. (Autocorrect want 'racist' to be 'tacos'. If only.)


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01-10-13 3:19 PM
horizontal rule
74

I don't want to think about what a creepy taco thing would be, either.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-10-13 3:24 PM
horizontal rule
75


Creepy racist taco.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 01-10-13 3:33 PM
horizontal rule
76

Don't read the comments.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 01-10-13 3:40 PM
horizontal rule
77

73: Not meaning to be creepy, I'm going to guess Fullerton (but a chance it is Santa Ana). It's a US Gov't program. Turns out Pittsburgh is one. And Baltimore too!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-10-13 3:52 PM
horizontal rule