The U.S. taxpayer-owned insurer couldn’t crack the $100B loss mark for 2008, which would have been quite an impressive accomplishment worthy of the financial hall of fame.
Instead of reaching a triple-digit loss mark for the year, AIG posted a $99.3B deficit to fall just short of the century mark. That's like a baseball pitcher winning 19 games in a season, or a hitter batting .299 for the year. AIG fell short of true greatness. The load of `08 red ink does translate into a heady $37.84 loss per share, a far cry from the $2.39 earnings per share in `07.
AIG CEO Edward Liddy (no relation to G. Gordon) gamely put a positive spin on AIG’s results. He talked of “meaningful progress in addressing liquidity issues” surrounding the corporate cancer known as AIG Financial Products, its directives operation that triggered the mess. A little less progress and AIG would be have a contender.
Liddy, who was called in from the bullpen by the feds to save the mess inherited from long-time CEO Hank Greenberg and his hapless successor Martin Sullivan, spoke of “taking additional steps to preserve the value our businesses and maximize the ultimate proceeds for the benefit of all stakeholders, including taxpayers.” Those steps already have been taken following yesterday’s announcement that Uncle Sam is splitting up the insurer.
AIG is now history after the Uncle Sam carve-up. It will be remembered for accepting $150B in federal cash. Another $30B in taxpayer money is in the pipeline. A whopping $100B loss would have been the equivalent of baseball's triple crown.