The federal government has been generous to AIG. The train wreck of an insurance company has pocketed more than $150 billion in bailout funds: When a first loan of $85 billion and a second one of $38 billion just weren't enough, the Federal Reserve and the Treasury delivered an apparently foolproof plan of buying back the sinking securities that AIG had insured through credit-default swaps.
But the Wall Street Journal reports today that AIG may still be hungry. It turns out that while run-of-the-mill credit-default swaps were its biggest loser, AIG also managed to lose another $10 billion in bets tied loosely to mortgages and corporate debt.
Says the Journal:
The details of the trades go beyond what AIG has explained to investors about the nature of its risk-taking operations, which led to the firm's near-collapse in September. In the past, AIG has said that its trades involved helping financial institutions and counterparties insure their securities holdings. The speculative trades, engineered by the insurer's financial-products unit, represent the first sign that AIG may have been gambling with its own capital.
Too bad AIG didn't mention this earlier. As the Journal notes, "the terms of the current $150 billion rescue package for AIG don't cover" the newly disclosed debts:
The structure of the soured deals raises questions about how the insurer will raise the funds to pay the debts. The Federal Reserve, which lent AIG billions of dollars to stay afloat, has no immediate plans to help AIG pay off the speculative trades.
The Journal reports that AIG is now in the position of "having to raise funds to pay off its partners" to cover its casino debts.
AIG's execs might want to visit Gamblers Anonymous, which offers the following questions for those who feel they may have a problem:
- Did gambling affect your reputation?
- Have you ever felt remorse after gambling?
- Did you ever gamble until your last dollar was gone?
- Did you ever borrow to finance your gambling?