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AIG in Hindsight

Author

Listed:
  • McDonald, Robert

    (Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago)

  • Paulson, Anna L.

    () (Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago)

Abstract

The near-failure on September 16, 2008, of American International Group (AIG) was an iconic moment in the financial crisis. The decision to rescue AIG was controversial at the time and remains so. Large bets on real estate pushed AIG to the brink of bankruptcy. In one case, AIG used securities lending to transform insurance company assets into residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) and collateralized debt obligations (CDOs), ultimately losing at least $21 billion and threatening the solvency of the life insurance companies. AIG also sold insurance on multi-sector CDOs, backed by real estate assets, ultimately losing more than $30 billion. These activities were apparently motivated by a belief that AIG’s real estate bets would not suffer defaults and were “money-good.” We find that these securities have in fact suffered write-downs and that the stark “money-good” claim can be rejected.

Suggested Citation

  • McDonald, Robert & Paulson, Anna L., 2014. "AIG in Hindsight," Working Paper Series WP-2014-7, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedhwp:wp-2014-07
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Ralph S.J. Koijen & Motohiro Yogo, 2017. "Risk of Life Insurers: Recent Trends and Transmission Mechanisms," NBER Working Papers 23365, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Nathan Foley-Fisher & Borghan Narajabad & Stephane Verani, 2016. "Securities Lending as Wholesale Funding: Evidence from the U.S. Life Insurance Industry," NBER Working Papers 22774, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Corradin, Stefano & Heider, Florian & Hoerova, Marie, 2017. "On collateral: implications for financial stability and monetary policy," Working Paper Series 2107, European Central Bank.
    4. Allen, Linda & Tang, Yi, 2016. "What’s the contingency? A proposal for bank contingent capital triggered by systemic risk," Journal of Financial Stability, Elsevier, vol. 26(C), pages 1-14.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    American International Group (AIG); Bankruptcy; Insurance;

    JEL classification:

    • G22 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Insurance; Insurance Companies; Actuarial Studies
    • G23 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Non-bank Financial Institutions; Financial Instruments; Institutional Investors

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