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AIG's Top 10 Losses: From Bad to Worse

No. 5: $3.6 billion in goodwill impairments. That's the same amount that: a.) Merrill Lynch paid in bonuses the night before Bank of America (BAC - Get Report) took control; and b.) the increase that veterans groups have called for in health care.

No. 4: $4.4 billion as a result of a credit valuation adjustment. That's the same amount that: a.) Vietnam has invested in overseas development; and b.) Medicare is owed in overpayments by insurance companies.

No. 3: $6.9 billion paid in interest and amortization on credit lines provided by the Fed. That's the same amount that: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac reportedly owned in foreclosed homes a year ago; and b.) the total sales of the world's largest diamond corporation, De Beers Group, in 2008.

No. 2: $13 billion in other-than-temporary impairment charges (losses on the value of investment assets). That's the same amount as: Nigeria's bilateral trade with India in 2008; and b.) bailout funding the government provided to automakers in December.

No. 1: $21 billion in lost tax benefits. That's the same amount as: a.) sales that the entire video gaming industry booked in 2008; b.) the estimated value of the Bollywood film industry; and c.) of course, the commercial paper credit line that AIG received last year when $1 billion still meant something.

Oh, there was another $2.3 billion in the "other" category, bringing the total to $64.1 billion.

This is how a $62 billion loss can appear reasonable.

Do you support the government's plan to give even more financial aid to AIG?

Yes. The company must be supported to keep the financial system from collapsing.
Yes. But the government needs to address the company's problems more quickly.
No. The company needs to sort out its issues without more funds.
No. Taxpayers have had enough of this. If it fails, it fails.

Gavin Magor joined Ratings in 2008, and is the senior analyst responsible for assigning financial strength ratings to health insurers and supporting other health care-related consumer products, including Medicare supplement insurance, long-term care insurance and elder care information. He conducts industry analysis in these areas. He has more than 20 years' international experience in credit risk management, commercial lending and analysis, working in the U.K., Sweden, Mexico, Brazil and the U.S. He holds a master's degree in business administration from The Open University in the U.K.
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