I'm not sure whether I've already linked to this terrific Michael Lewis article about AIG - or if a commenter posted the link, or neither of the above. My blog has gotten so big that it's become *unrememberable* and *unsearchable*!
Anyways, my brother sent it to me recently and I found time to read 25% of it. Y'all have to check out this blood-boiling testimony:
The perception was that the very same people who had made these insane, greed-driven decisions that might cost the U.S. taxpayer $182.5 billion were still paying themselves big bucks! An exchange between C.E.O. Liddy and Florida congressman Alan Grayson captured the spirit of that moment:
GRAYSON: Mr. Liddy, you said before that there’s 20 or 25 people who were involved in the credit default business. What are their names, please?
LIDDY: I don’t have their names at my disposal, sir.
GRAYSON: Well, I’m sure you remember a few of the names. I mean, they did cause your company to crash.
LIDDY: You know, I’ve been at the company, as you know, for six months. I don’t know all the people that were in AIG F.P., and many of them are gone.
GRAYSON: Well, there or gone, it doesn’t really matter. I want to know who they are. Names, please...
LIDDY: If it’s possible to provide you the names, we will. We will cooperate with you.
GRAYSON: That’s good, but I want to know the names that you know right now.
LIDDY: I don’t know them, sir.
GRAYSON: Not a single one. You’re talking about a group, a small group of people who caused your company to lose $100 billion, as you sit here today, you can’t give me one single name.
LIDDY: The single name I would give you is Joseph Cassano, who ran...
GRAYSON: That’s a good start. You already gave that name. Give me another name.
LIDDY: I just don’t know them. I do not know those names. I don’t have them all at my command.
GRAYSON: Well, how can you propose to solve the problems of the company that you’re now running if you don’t know the names of the people who caused that problem? … I would expect you’d at least know more than one name. How about two names? Give us one more name.
LIDDY: I’m just not going to do that, sir, because that will provide—that’ll be the—that could be a list of people that we could do—individuals who want to do damage to them could do that. It’s just not...
GRAYSON: Well, listen, these same people could now be working right now today at Citibank. Is it more important to protect them, the ones who caused the $100 billion loss, or protect us? Which is more important to you right now?
And author Michael Lewis sums up all of our helpless cynicism when he writes:
For a brief moment you had a glimpse of how harshly financial people might be treated if Wall Street ever lost its political influence.
The lines of demarcation between Big Government, Big Business, Wall Street....Big Media, Big Education, Big Energy, Big Military, etc. are so thin that henceforth, in the interests of shorthand and accuracy, we really ought to refer to our thievin' oppressors as just Big A$$holes.
That Micheal Lewis is great; and not because he's a gifted technical writer. No, Lewis' forte is an uncanny knack for finding good *stories*. Make sure y'all read at least that one book of his that I highly recommended.