Insuring Failure

Remember yesterday, when AIG CEO Edward Libby said that AIG’s other insurance businesses were just fine thank you?  Not so fast:

Thomas Gober, a former Mississippi state insurance examiner who has tracked fraud in the industry for 23 years and served previously as a consultant to the FBI and the Department of Justice, says he believes AIG’s supposedly solvent insurance business may be at least as troubled as its reckless financial-products unit. Far from being “healthy,” as state insurance regulators, ratings agencies and other experts have repeatedly described the insurance side, Gober calls it “a house of cards.” Citing numerous documents he has obtained from state insurance regulators and obscure data buried in AIG’s own 300-page annual reports, Gober argues that AIG’s 71 interlocking domestic U.S. insurance subsidiaries are in hock to each other to an astonishing degree.

Maybe someone should take a look at this.

Most of this as-yet-undiscovered problem, Gober says, lies in the area of reinsurance, whereby one insurance company insures the liabilities of another so that the latter doesn’t have to carry all the risk on its books. Most major insurance companies use outside firms to reinsure, but the vast majority of AIG’s reinsurance contracts are negotiated internally among its affiliates, Gober says, and these internal balance sheets don’t add up. The annual report of one major AIG subsidiary, American Home Assurance, shows that it owes $25 billion to another AIG affiliate, National Union Fire, Gober maintains. But American has only $22 billion of total invested assets on its balance sheet, he says, and it has issued another $22 billion in guarantees to the other companies. “The American Home assets and liquidity raise serious questions about their ability to make good on their promise to National Union Fire,” says Gober, who has a consulting business devoted to protecting policyholders. Gober says there are numerous other examples of “cooked books” between AIG subsidiaries. Based on the state insurance regulators’ own reports detailing unanswered questions, the tally in losses could be hundreds of billions of dollars more than AIG is now acknowledging.

This is one of the reasons I miss Eliot Spitzer.  These fuckers need to be prosecuted and jailed before they blow up the world.

PS – Spitzer was on WNYC yesterday, and he made pretty good sense.

The Next AIG Scandal? [Newsweek]

57 Comments

So AIG is the fiscal equivalent of a big self licking ice cream cone?

Hope no one (frantically checks his insurance policies) here has AIG insurance because it looks like the insurance bookie is about to be kneecapped by reality.

Could you imagine how awesome life would be if every week we alternated between white-collar-criminal-bust stories and Eliot Spitzer’s been found in bed with another hooker stories? It would be kinda like a real-life Frank Miller comic.

@Serolf Divad: Poor Eliot. If he had only been screwing some regular person for free instead of the high priced call girl, he would probably still be around. Credit card charges for dinner for two raise a lot fewer eyebrows than checks made out to ‘Bambiii’ with the note ‘Thanxxx for last nite xoxo’

@Tommmcatt the Wet Sprocket:

How’s this: Spitzer learns that his favorite hooker’s body has just been found in a ditch, minus head. A note pinned to the body warns Spitzer to stop nosing around AIG or there’ll be more dead hookers. Spitzer then goes and shoots a bunch of AIG guys in the balls and makes them eat broken glass. Spitzer goes home, tired and bloody, Picks up the phone and rings up his next favorite hooker.

THE END

@Serolf Divad:
Who’s the crippled hunchback in this story? No Frank Miller story is complete without one.

@ManchuCandidate: GEICO for the car; Assurant for the renter’s.; MetLife for my life; Prudential for any future disability.

AIG is/was a pure criminal organization if there every was one. Selling Credit Default Swaps with nothing to back them up is no different than selling the Brooklyn Bridge.

Jon Stewart’s beatdown notwithstanding- the first one I heard call AIG a scam was Dylan Ratigan of CNBC, and he has been saying it for a year.

BTW NCS North is beating Memphis 46-45 with 13 minutes to play.

@String Bikini Theory: If Memphis gets beat I am FUCKED in the Stinque pool. I will be the bitch boy once again (well, I guess I never stopped).

Spitzer didn’t get inside the larger crimes, which are always about underwriting quality. He played the crusader for the victimized investing class for nickel dime scamming on Wall Street. Cute but it doesn’t – and didn’t – stop the doomsday machine. Guys like Gober speak to the fundamental soundness of entire industries. What the states needs right now is an Italian-style Magistrate with a forensic accounting background to send teams of accountants into the books of all the companies at the scene of the crime. If anything good should come out of all this it should be the expressed policy that underwriting quality is a public health issue and should be taken every bit as seriously (discounting the last 8 years) as food processing quality.

@homofascist:
If Memphis goes down the cloud from burning brackets will blot out the sun.
@FlyingChainSaw:
And does Congress care about another trillion or so in fraud at AIG? Nah… lets have more hearings on bonus chump change.

@FlyingChainSaw:
AIG can be treated like Tainted Peanut Butter. I’m cool with that.

ETA: Relax. Memphis is ahead. If Memphis goes then so goes my bracket too.

@FlyingChainSaw:
So mere quarantine is not enough. We’re talking wholesale torching of the remains then.

MANY THANKS to SFL for guidance on the LSU-Butler game. You have chosen wisely.

@homofascist: Is that what passes for trash talk around here?

@nojo: I briefly contemplated making the group password “gocards.” We’re a restrained bunch here.

@mellbell:
They were a 20 point favorite and didn’t cover. I’ve always thought taking the prohibitive underdogs and points in the first round is a good bet. Too much money chasing the favorites. It’s not like any of these teams are chopped liver.

@ManchuCandidate: The SOP for a herd with Hoof and Mouth disease seems apropos. A bullet to the head. Bulldoze ’em into a big hole in the ground. Burn the carcasses then bury it all.

@chicago bureau: I posted my quandary in a public forum as I was going back and forth about which to pick. Had you paid attention you could have chosen correctly as well instead of being in last place.

@nojo: Is that better?

@homofascist: Getting there, but not pithy enough. I believe that tradition requires you to call CB a fucking loser.

@homofascist: I picked LSU solely based upon Cynica’s theory of picking the Catholic schools or schools with a higher number of Catholic students. It worked.

@homofascist: Notre Dame’s a bunch of wankers. That’s different.

We need to add Black Eagle’s March Madness picks in the Stinque pool.

@FlyingChainSaw: Noooo!! Not the innocent puppies and kittehz!!

@SanFranLefty: It should have crossed my mind last night, but I was too busy chortling at Florida pythons. And now the brackets are all locked.

@Mistress Cynica: ‘member God would tell His Chosen People to kill every fucking thing in their way – mans, womans, kidz and tha animales.

@SanFranLefty: ND sucks so bad, they’re in the NIT and playing the school I got two degrees from. *sigh*

@nojo: @homofascist:
A point of order on Trash Talking protocol. Once anyone drops “below the line” on the overview tab (such as Chicago Bureau now), they are no longer deemed worthy of trash-talk. Best to treat them as if they do not exist.

I assumed HF understood this, as he never emerged above the line at any time during the tournament last year.

@homofascist: How does that explain Notre Dame?
The Irish are to basketball what the Scots are to tennis.

Hose Manikin: Wow. Pick a couple of 8-9 games wrong and you’re the worst college basketball fan ever. Sheesh.

I’m much more laid back about it. See, the pool that Pa Bureau ran, back when I was a cubicle, reset the brackets after two rounds, and after four rounds, so that everybody could have fun even though they got torched in the first round.

Of course, if Tennessee wins, then I could be staring straight at 0-and-4 on the 8-9 games this year. Which would admittedly suck.

@Hose Manikin: Fair enough. I know the instant I start trash talking I will be relegated to the bottom of the barrel, so look for that by the end of the day.

@Ewalda: Andy Murray is actually turning out to be pretty good. You may need a new analogy.

Also, did you know that is used to be Jews that were considered the stud basketball players? It was seen as one of the few avenues for them to get out of their poor, inner city conditions and make it big (sound familiar?). True story. Thank you history of sports class at a liberal arts college.

homofascist: As in, perhaps, right now. Northern Iowa FAIL.

[UPDATE: UMd +10 on Berkeley with 8 minutes left. Poor Mike Montgomery. (Sniff.) But also: UConn, UNC rolling. But you knew that would happen.]

@Hose Manikin: Oh, I’m calling out the Losers. No fun without shame.

@chicago bureau: I know. I was way down on the Big Ten this year. Plus the MVC is usually good for a win or two. Oh well.

Yay! I am back in my rightful place (last). The sad thing is actually follow college basketball – I don’t just pick my teams based on the cutest uniforms/power forwards. Perhaps I should change my strategy. When LSU beats North Carolina though, you will all be sorry.

@homofascist: Alphabetical picks are 5 for 7 right now. I want an anal-retention bonus.

@homofascist: And it’s girls (and ‘bisco) on top. Interesting.

@mellbell:
Hey, I would have been ‘cept for the goddamn Golden Bears.

Walks away muttering “Fucking Bears. Fucking Bears.”

@mellbell: Just watch those elbows, gals!

@ManchuCandidate: And Lefty chosing the Leaping Mormons over the Aggies? WTF?

@Nabisco:
Lefty’s a Longhorn. No love for the aggies.

@Nabisco: Hmmm…Mormons vs. barely literate rednecks. Even though one of them won I think they still both lose.

NM Lobos v. Notre Damn Fightin Irish, 7 PM EDT/6 PDT ESPN 2.

Humbly seeking some second round NIT love.

@redmanlaw: Family loyalty dictates that I support the Irish, but, you know, eff those guys.

@mellbell: I respect your position. Our local columnist made quite a deal of that particular game.

@redmanlaw: animo, Lobos. It’s payback for the papist Golden Domers.

Take heart 6 0f 8’ers. You are in good company. The cherry picker in chief is also 6 of eight.

Black Eagles’s picks –

RIGHT:
Conn
Purdue
Wash
Maryland
Memphis
UNC

WRONG:
BYU
Butler

@ManchuCandidate: I had some problems with that pick m’damnself.

There was a lot of “MORMONS OR AGGIES?”
“MORMONS OR AGGIES?”
“OMFG THE HUMANITY (or lack thereof)!”
before I finally settled down and figured I have to give it to the thumb suckers because the kid from Weird Science who is not Anthony Michael Hall is a professor there.

Way to go thumbsupyourasses, now die in the next round!

‘Nova is getting run by US American. *shudder*

@redmanlaw: And that’s one reason I have no use for Him.

@Jamie Sommers wants her $1M bonus: I went through the “Mormons or Aggies, Mormons or Aggies” debate too. My theory (which I explained on the pool but will share with all not participating) was that BYU’s players are older due to going on Missions, and therefore what they lack in brute force they make up for by playing smarter. Didn’t work.

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