September 10, 2012
Now That The Government Is Selling Control Of AIG, Did It Mismanage Anything?
Posted by David Zaring

The takeover of AIG was fraught with problems, and has birthed a Takings Clause suit that shouldn't be taken lightly.  But once taken over, there was plenty of concern that AIG would be run like a Soviet factory.  That concern now appears to have been misplaced, and I'm looking forward to apologies from those convinced we were on the road to insurance serfdom, or, at the very least, the relocation of all of the company's investments to the states of Ohio and Virginia by 2012.

Instead with AIG, what we saw was that the government, like any investor laying down an uncomfortably large bet, looked to maximize its returns and get out quickly.  Governments - the largest investors, given pensions plans and the like - almost always do plain old risk-adjusted return maximization almost all the time, and it looks to me like the stake-taking during the financial crisis had been no exception to the rule.

Sure, you can wonder about the auto companies.  I wonder about the Chevy Volt.  But let's not kid ourselves.  The 1% of the time that politics may have affected the way the government ran our bailouts should not obscure the 99% of the time it played it straight down the middle.  That doesn't mean we should be psyched about bailouts.  But it does introduce a little bit of realism about one of the alleged downsides.

Administrative Law, Fiduciary Law, Financial Crisis, Financial Institutions | Bookmark

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