Today's Outrage: AIG Redefines Catastrophic

AIG stock is practically worthless and the insurer is back in line for another bailout. Maybe it's time to just dismantle the behemoth and move on.
Author:
Publish date:

American International Group (AIG) - Get Report is giving catastrophic insurance a new meaning.

What we are seeing is a catastrophe without end, and the U.S. taxpayer has become the insurer. The government already owns 80% of AIG after providing $150 billion so far to prevent a collapse.

Now this hodgepodge of global insurance businesses is back at the trough again, discussing more funding options with the government to help it stay afloat.

Meanwhile, AIG appears hesitant to accept offers for its Life Insurance unit unless it gets the right price.

MetLife

(MET) - Get Report

made a preliminary offer of $11.2 billion for American Life Insurance, but the price may drop to about $8 billion as the financial health of the unit deteriorates, according to

Bloomberg

. A separate offer from

Axa

excludes operations in Japan, Bloomberg reported. That's fine, too.

AIG should just hurry up and sell. No telling how much worse it might get.

And I don't just mean the insurance unit. With AIG expected to post a $60 billion loss next week, according to

CNBC

, the government should be looking for a quick exit.

Let's just dismantle AIG and move on.

I know this idea will rub many the wrong way. AIG is too big and touches the lives of too many people through its myriad insurance programs. So breaking it up would be complicated and challenging.

Some investors may still be clinging to hope that AIG stock may some day regain value. Get real. Climbing is exponentially slower and harder than falling. How long do you think it will take to get back to the $50 level AIG saw last spring from the current price of 53 cents?

Besides, the real question is whether you think this company can really hold things together. Not much evidence of that considering how many times it has come back for yet another government handout.

At least a fire sale would return

some

cash to taxpayers.

Hall is the editor of

TheStreet.com

. Previously, he served as deputy editor and chief innovation officer at

The Orange County Register

and as a news manager at

Bloomberg News

in Frankfurt, Amsterdam and Washington, D.C. As a reporter, he covered business and financial markets, worked in both print and television in the U.S. and Europe, and conducted in-depth investigative coverage at

The Journal-Gazette

in Fort Wayne, Ind. His work also has been published in a variety of newspapers including

The Wall Street Journal

,

The New York Times

and

International Herald Tribune

. Hall received a bachelor�s degree in journalism and political science from The Ohio State University and has taken graduate management science courses at Boston University.