But if you put money to work with Benmosche, you're now doing OK. (I started doing this last December, in my retirement account, and I can vouch for that.) The government has been paid back, with a profit, and AIG has just announced a dividend and stock buyback.
When Benmosche shows up for a TV interview these days, he's treated as a rock star. (He has also grown a rocking beard.) He's treated the way Greenberg once was, the way Greenberg feels he should still be treated. Those who say no one was ever punished for the Great Recession haven't talked to Hank Greenberg.
Still, like I said, in normal times insurance is a great business.
AIG reported earnings
for the latest quarter of $2.7 billion, or $1.84 a share, up from $2.2 billion in the previous quarter.
The real headline should be that these are normal times again. The real story should be the still-unsettled question of who will succeed Benmosche as CEO. Former Chairman Steve Miller, who was to take over in a plan written when Benmosche was diagnosed with cancer in 2010, left last year. Benmosche says he's in remission. As a shareholder, I'm thankful.
But the man is 69. Even the best book-making operation doesn't run itself. Instead of talking about AIG's past, or even its present, when are we going to return to talking about its future? Isn't the unknown future what insurance is all about?
At the time of publication, the author owned 200 shares in AIG
This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.