Bob Benmosche, the amiably loud-mouthed chief executive of AIG, took his victory tour to London this week. “We are free at last,” he rejoiced to his fellow bosses as the US Treasury sold the last of its AIG stake.
This time last year, I wrote a New Year column with seven predictions for events that would occur in business in 2011. It is time for reckoning and I must say that I scored poorly, with only three out of seven correct.
To be fair to me, the predictions were deliberately provocative. As I noted at the time: ”They are intended to be adventurous enough to be interesting – even if I turn out to be wrong, they should at least be things to watch.”
I was at least right about that. With no more excuses, let’s take a look at my predictions and what happened. Read more
Companies controlled by the US government seem to have a lot of difficulty maintaining an amicable balance of power between their chairmen and their chief executives.
Harvey Golub’s abrupt resignation as chairman of American International Group after a stand-off between him and Bob Benmosche, AIG’s chief executive, is a second example of the phenomenon. Read more
Joe Cassano has been invisible for so long – since the 2008 crisis, the former head of AIG’s now-notorious financial products division has not given a media interview and is only rarely photographed – that it was a revelation to watch his appearance on Capitol Hill.
Mr Cassano’s mystique was such, and the expectations of him so low, that my first impression was that he was a good witness. His co-operative, friendly, somewhat geeky demeanour in front of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission was unlike that of a brash master of the universe.
This helped him in his striking assertion that AIGFP, which made multi-billion dollar mark-to-market losses on its portfolio of credit default swaps and turned AIG into the dark heart of the financial crisis, did not make any mistakes in credit risk management. Read more