The tug of war continues between corporate financial giants and the federal government, and certain members of the former seem to have some trouble adjusting to their post-bailout status. AIG, for example, is still planning to reward its top 400 executives with a whopping $165 million in bonuses this weekend, even after the company was given more than $170 billion from taxpayers to stay afloat.
Update: On Saturday, CNN reported that AIG was “scaling back bonuses” for “some” of its top employees, but whether this reduces the $165 million payout cited by The New York Times is unclear at this point.
The New York Times:
A.I.G., nearly 80 percent of which is now owned by the government, defended its bonuses to the financial products unit, arguing that they were promised last year before the crisis and cannot be legally canceled. In a letter to Mr. Geithner, Edward M. Liddy, the government-appointed chairman of A.I.G., said at least some bonuses were needed to keep the most skilled executives.
“We cannot attract and retain the best and the brightest talent to lead and staff the A.I.G. businesses — which are now being operated principally on behalf of American taxpayers — if employees believe their compensation is subject to continued and arbitrary adjustment by the U.S. Treasury,” he wrote Mr. Geithner on Saturday.
Still, Mr. Liddy seemed stung by his talk with Mr. Geithner, calling their conversation last Wednesday “a difficult one for me” and noting that he receives no bonus himself. “Needless to say, in the current circumstances,” Mr. Liddy wrote, “I do not like these arrangements and find it distasteful and difficult to recommend to you that we must proceed with them.”