Yesterday an unfortunate chart appeared here suggesting that AIG had received a bailout package from the US taxpayer totalling $160bn. That was an error. The figure is actually $173bn.

The Wall Street Journal is my source - in this article which is another testament to the benefits of a free press. You wondered - although without confirmation you already sensed the answer in your heart - where all this taxpayer largesse, in the main, was going. Goldman Sachs. Deutsche Bank. Merrill Lynch. Société Générale.

AIG first started begging for a bailout at the $40bn level (reportedly) last September. The world would end if it were not saved. Yet despite a combination of championship dissembling from counterparties like Goldman, bleating from Hank Greenberg that it was only a temporary liquidity issue (2'47") and opacity from the Fed in order to protect "the system" the numbers cited in the WSJ report appear to be spread widely with not, it seems, a single massive concentration.

How reassuring it would be to have the full story and sums in order to understand how and why this client diversity so vaunted by Mr Greenberg has been overrun to the tune of $173bn. In the absence of full detail the choice of socialising 100% of the losses looks very generous of the US taxpayer.

Related links:
Who’s Really Being Propped Up in the A.I.G. Bailout?
Propping up a house of cards

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