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Notes to myself, possibly of interest to others.
-- Bill Northlich

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Whaz Happening with AIG?

A good friend, Mike Waltz, sends the following in response to me blathering on about how obscure the AIG problem is so give the O team some slack:
I guess where I end up on it is, somewhere in the giant staffs available to these guys, must be at least one reflective, commonsense person who, upon being told the outlines of the policy ("Smithers, we're going to dump the biggest shitload of money in the history of the world on AIG, what are our options in going about it?"), would repair to a separate, quiet room with a yellow pad and #2 lead pencil and spend several solitary hours doing some serious "thinking on paper"--the kind of thinking that makes blood drops from the forehead appear on the yellow pad.

To any legally trained person, entrusted with the care of other people's serious money, quite a negotiating checklist, complete with cautions, pitfalls and must-have deal points, would have been generated in a relatively short time. You would not want to dump all the money at once, you'd want to know exactly where the money was going and why, and you'd want to know the negotiating posture of the 20 or so major debtor-creditor situations: Goldman, foreign banks etc. You would caution against wildly paying out $$ without efforts to gain time for negotiation.

You would point out in 10 different ways the giant leverage someone bringing $80 BN into a deal has. Goldman doesn't call the shots. The frogs don't call the shots. We do.

I don't see any evidence that this was done in this case, and have not heard of such evidence. The thought pattern--if you can call it that in Paulson's case--appears to have been "$85 BN to AIG, structure as stock purchase, DEAL IS DONE, great job, boys, on to the next deal." Hank Paulson saw himself as the ultimate dealmaker, problem solver, do in 10 minutes what other men do in 10 years type of guy. An action guy, a doer--just not all that smart--unless, that is, you view it from a former Goldman's Chairman point of view.
Wow. Well said. My only add is: Maybe this due dilligence was done, and the result is so bad it is not appropriate to discuss in mixed company.

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