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Five Dumbest Things on Wall Street: Nov. 13

Benmosche the Brave

In the end, Bennie decided not to jet.

American International Group (AIG) CEO Robert Benmosche said Wednesday he plans to remain in his job at the besieged insurer. Benmosche reaffirmed his commitment to the company in a letter to employees after a report in The Wall Street Journal claimed he was close to quitting. The Journal said Benmosche was fed up with government meddling and heavy restrictions on executive pay resulting from the $180 billion in bailout funds the company took from Uncle Sam last year in return for an 80% stake.

AIG

Benmosche said in his letter that while he was aggravated by the regulatory oversight, he and the board of directors "remain totally committed to leading AIG through its challenges and to continuing to fight on your behalf."

Wow, now that is a stand up guy! He is a man of such principle and character that he would rather quit after three months on the job than listen to his bosses in Washington. Take heed all you salary-capped AIG employees, because you truly have a special leader worth emulating now. If he can threaten to quit, you can too!

Of course, unlike many of his employees, Benmosche doesn't need the job or the headache, so he can threaten to jump ship and follow through. It's well known he could hang it up in a heartbeat and live quite cozily on the money he made at his last gig running Metlife (MET).

But no. Benmosche is going to be a martyr. He's going to stick around and turn this ship around, or sell it off piece by piece, whichever comes first. And while he does that he's going to collect that entire $10.5 million pay package, which was approved by pay czar Ken Feinberg. The top 25 highest-paid AIG executives, on the other hand, will be limited in most cases to $500,000 according to the government's plan.

Now that's what we call sacrifice.

Dumb-o-meter score: 75 -- Benmosche could easily solve his compensation problem by sharing some of his own. There's plenty of it to go around.

Before joining TheStreet.com, Gregg Greenberg was a writer and segment producer for CNBC's Closing Bell. He previously worked at FleetBoston and Lehman Brothers in their Private Client Services divisions, covering high net-worth individuals and midsize hedge funds. Greenberg attended New York University's School of Business and Economic Reporting. He also has an M.B.A. from Cornell University's Johnson School of Business, and a B.A. in history from Amherst College.
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