This Day On The Street
Continue to site right-arrow
This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
TheStreet Open House

AIG Bailout Details Don't Tell the Full Story

Lehman Brothers provides a miniature example of what may be at stake with AIG. While Lehman had underwritten $150 billion in underlying debt, says Becher, the company had almost $400 billion worth of exposure to CDS. Investors are still waiting to find out how much they will receive from those hard-to-value assets, and any disclosures about the AIG valuation process could help kick-start the rest of the market, and also provide a tally of the winners and losers so far.

"The government is in a bind here -- if you value it too high, then the taxpayer loses, and if you value it too low, then some of these institutions can go under," says Becher. "But because of the size and exposure of AIG, and the people who had legitimate insurance with them ... sooner or later, the government would have to deal with it somehow. They let Lehman go and chaos ensued."

Another issue on the table is that AIG and government officials have created a human-resources Catch-22. The firm plans to dole out $165 million in bonuses to keep the employees who created the very derivative products that ultimately destroyed AIG as a private, independent entity. The firm says it is contractually obligated to pay those bonuses, and that the employees have critical knowledge about valuing and winding down its toxic assets.

"Maybe regulators should have asserted more control at the start, back in the fall," says David Steuber, co-chair of the insurance-recovery practice at Howrey LLP. "But now they've made some of these people indispensable, and those people are going to need to be compensated at or about the market rate."

3 of 4

Check Out Our Best Services for Investors

Action Alerts PLUS

Portfolio Manager Jim Cramer and Director of Research Jack Mohr reveal their investment tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
Quant Ratings

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
Stocks Under $10

David Peltier uncovers low dollar stocks with serious upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
14-Days Free
Try it NOW
Only $9.95
Try it NOW
14-Days Free
Try it NOW

Check Out Our Best Services for Investors

Dividend Stock Advisor

David Peltier identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Trifecta Stocks

Every recommendation goes through 3 layers of intense scrutiny—quantitative, fundamental and technical analysis—to maximize profit potential and minimize risk.

Product Features:
  • Model Portfolio
  • Intra Day Trade alerts
  • Access to Quant Ratings
Options Profits

Our options trading pros provide over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • Actionable options commentary and news
  • Real-time trading community
Try it NOW
Try it NOW
Try it NOW
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!
AIG $54.00 -0.30%
BAC $15.30 -0.81%
BCS $14.68 -1.60%
DB $34.43 -0.12%
GS $187.87 0.34%


DOW 17,679.22 +0.99 0.01%
S&P 500 2,060.14 +3.99 0.19%
NASDAQ 4,882.7430 +19.3810 0.40%

Partners Compare Online Brokers

Free Reports

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs