It's Christmas in March at The American International Group (AIG), the near-dead insurance and financial products behemoth that racked up the largest loss in U.S. history last quarter, $61.7-billion, and which has been on the receiving end of $170-billion in federal bailout money. And the message the hemorrhaging AIG's sending the White House, taxpayers and it's beleaguered executives is, run this company damn near into the ground and there's a $450 million bonus pool waiting. Yes, as infuriating and insane as that sounds, it's bonus time over at AIG, again. And it's you, me and every other taxpaying American who's footing the bill.
In January, President Obama called such irresponsible and blatantly self-serving Wall Street bonus activity in the face of the industry's massive financial crisis "shameful." And now we have Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner angry as well, demanding that AIG reduce the current round of bonuses that the company claims it's legally obligated to pay because they were promised and accrued early last year before the company's financial troubles surfaced. But an "angry" Geithner is about as intimidating as Doogie Howser, and AIG's essentially told him and the administration to fuck off, much as it did last Fall when, days after receiving it's first Federal TARP money, it threw another lavish $400,000+ "retreat" for it's executives and clients.
In fact, the U.S. government has shelled out trillions in bailouts and guarantees, yet has been utterly impotent in getting these toxic-asset-plagued corporations to explain where the money's going, and/or to stop rewarding failure with million-dollar bonuses. The only real toxic thing here is the continued arrogance of companies like AIG.