AIG bailout spared Wall Street, watchdog says

By Tami Luhby, senior writer


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The federal government could have pressed the private sector to help rescue AIG when the company was on the verge of collapse in September 2008, a government watchdog has found. Instead, it let Wall Street off easy.

The government's $182 billion bailout of the global insurer has left taxpayers holding the bag, while ensuring that all of AIG's creditors and business partners are paid in full, said a Congressional Oversight Panel report released Thursday.

The oversight panel, which is charged with monitoring the government's use of Troubled Asset Relief Program funds, criticized the Federal Reserve and Treasury Department for repeatedly saying they had to choose between letting the world's largest insurer fail or rescuing it.

The government chose not to push major lenders to privately bail out AIG or propose a rescue that combined public and private funds. Nor did it require AIG to negotiate with its business partners, or counterparties, as a condition of its rescue.

Since AIG's counterparties emerged unscathed, sophisticated investors who participate in the risky derivatives market now think that taxpayers will come to their rescue as well, the report said.

"The government distorted the marketplace by transforming highly risky derivative bets into fully guaranteed transactions, with the American taxpayer standing as guarantor," the panel wrote.

It remains unclear whether taxpayers will recoup the funds they extended AIG, the panel said. Just last week, the sale of AIG's Asian life insurance unit for more than $35 billion went bust when the buyer, Prudential PLC, sought a lower price.

"It is clear that taxpayers remain at risk for severe losses," the panel wrote. To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 16,805.41 127.51 0.76%
Nasdaq 4,483.72 30.92 0.69%
S&P 500 1,964.58 13.76 0.71%
Treasuries 2.27 -0.00 -0.09%
Data as of 2:00am ET
Company Price Change % Change
Ford Motor Co 13.78 -0.62 -4.31%
Microsoft Corp 46.13 1.11 2.47%
Apple Inc 105.22 0.39 0.37%
Bank of America Corp... 16.72 0.12 0.72%
Yahoo! Inc 43.50 0.90 2.11%
Data as of Oct 24

Sections

New York headlines took a straight forward and direct approach with NYC's Ebola news. More

The midterm elections are around the corner, and the economy remains a top concern. With unemployment down and inflation low, why do people still feel the economy stinks? More

Shares of Facebook recently topped $80. They've more than quadrupled from their post-IPO lows of two years ago. Can Mark Zuckerberg keep the momentum in mobile going? More

Using technology developed for the military and implemented in Iraq, schools have installed alarm systems that detect gunfire. More

If you're looking to fly this holiday season, the clock's ticking to get the best prices. More

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2014 and/or its affiliates.