AIG, that (almost) wholly-owned subsidiary hedge fund of the US Government, announced that they were going to pay millions in retention bonuses to employees of their financial products (and other) divisions. This set off a firestorm of protests, meme form which follows…ON ADDING INSULT TO INJURY: Under pressure to disclose AIG published a counterparty list, and the public found out that Goldman Sachs, as well as a number of foreign concerns, took some $45 billion of the roughly $170 billion AIG was given. Folks were not particularly happy about that.ON IT’S AN INHERITED PROBLEM: The bonus issue reaches as far back as early 2008, and was known about for months. The fact remains AIG continued posting big losses and the government kept shoveling money their way. And as recently as March 2nd of this year.ON VOWING TO DO SOMETHING, JUST AFTER THE FACT: You can moan and/or whine all you want – the bonuses have already been paid. You can send out subpoenas too, but that’s mostly for show – there are few legal options available at this stage of the game. So, slip in that you are going to ensure this doesn’t happen during the next round of AIG cash injections. You heard it right…during the next AIG bailout.ON MAKING SURE YOU ALWAYS HAVE A VILLAIN: Easy. There will always be someone around who is coaxed into thinking this is but a battle their hero is fighting. Unfortunately, the real war being waged is between the checkbooks of the citizenry and their bloodlust for granite countertops. The tacticians are only trying to convince the public they can keep the kitchen and continue dining out. While paying for neither.ON TWITTER CAN SOLVE EVERYTHING: Much as Twitter doesn’t make any money (yet), the administration called on one of their founders to provide advice on the financial crisis. Lawmakers jumped on the bandwagon, using the service to discuss the AIG issue out in the open. Bonus issue (and financial crisis) still outstanding.
And…ON THE EMPLOYEES ARE THE ONLY ONES WHO KNOW THIS CDS STUFF: You have to pay those bonuses because the folks that created the credit derivatives are the only ones who can unwind the transactions, and if they leave the whole system will come crashing down. My only question here would be: if you don’t pay bonuses to someone who created financial products that nobody wants anymore, what the hell are they going to do if you don’t pay them? Just up and quit?
I was once a master of the universe, conjuring financial products only I could understand. Now I work in the Goldman Sachs PR department, twittering about all the money we are lending to family restaurants and small businesses doing home renovation, and moonlighting as an auditor at the Treasury for the pension. All tax free too (or at least until my boss quits). UPDATE: Unless, that is, I do the ‘honorable thing’ at the bequest of my Congressman instead.
MORE MEME: The top recipient of AIG political contributions in the 2008 election cycle wants to tax the bonuses he ensured in the first place. I’d like to think it doesn’t get any better than this, but I’d probably be wrong by day’s end.