Four calm thoughts about AIG

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18 March 2009
Donald Light
At long last, Washington has found an issue with truly bi-partisan appeal -- doing something about those awful bonuses at AIG. While it is gratifying to see both parties, not to mention the White House and any number of executive agencies, lined up behind one simple goal--it would be good to keep a few points in mind. First, AIG is a bunch of insurance companies, as well as a beleaguered holding company. No one in the insurance companies has been cited as benefiting from pay for bad performance. Second, if we (the citizens who effectively own AIG) want to get back as much of the bail-out as possible, we should be doing everything we can to retain and properly motivate the good managers in the insurance businesses--because that is where the bail-out payback will be coming from. Third, in retrospect it is clear that whoever designed and approved the incentive compensation plans for the financial services group, should be accountable for how those plans did not include consequences for horrific (or even bad) performance. Fourth, we all benefit from living in a nation of laws and due process, and not in a country where laws or administrative action can be turned at will at whoever is gathering the day's worst headlines.

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