AIG Tries to Bury (the latest) Bad News
Anyone reading the *Sunday papers is likely to notice the blaring headlines: AIG senior executives are being paid millions in bonuses. That, notwithstanding the almost $200 billion of taxpayer money already injected into the company.
What’s interesting, though, is how the news first broke online, then changed rapidly.
Around 6 p.m. tonight, both The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal web sites broke stories saying that AIG is paying out $100 million in bonuses (amazingly, largely to the executives who worked in the unit responsible for most of the company’s losses).
However, by later evening, the number in the Times story had morphed into $165 million, while the Journal article backed off on the number altogether, only reporting that AIG was to pay “millions in bonuses.” Then, just before midnight, the Journal reported a dramatically higher bonus amount: $450 million.
Do I hear $700 million??
What on earth is going on?
Obviously, there’s some confusion about the amount.
One possibility is that the news got buried — or at least there was an attempt to bury it — on a late Sat. afternoon, and the media are still digesting it. Not having seen the news release, one might further guess that it was not exactly a model of clarity.
This most recent, sordid episode involving AIG is eerily reminiscent of the Sept. weekend last fall, just before the government “rescued” the company, and just after Lehman Bros. collapsed.
Anyone who was glued to the financial news that weekend, as I was, recalls the “SOS” AIG put out, accompanied by its ever-rising estimates of its total losses.
First the number was pegged at $20 billion, then $40 billion. By the end of the weekend, the loss estimate had ballooned to $80 billion — and then the government stepped in.
Since then, of course, the number has grown to almost $200 billion . . .
*I get practically all my news online, so don’t usually know what the print headlines are.