Monday, March 16, 2009

Is there such a thing as ethics in high finance?

I would like to think that the general premise under which our government agreed to fork over tens of billions of your and my tax dollars to the insolvent AIG was to pay debts that AIG no longer had the money to honor.   Not only should the "financial products" operation of AIG be investigated for fraud, the entire company, and particularly those executives who showed up in congress and the offices of the treasury with their ransom notes and wheel barrows to be filled with money, should be questioned about taking our money under false or fraudulent pretenses since they are also using our money to pay millions in "contractually obligated" bonuses to the geniuses in their financial products operation.  Will AIG go under if they don't pay these so called bonuses?  We have been hit up for precious billions because the credit market consequences of AIG going into default are purported to be a further freeze-up of lending that hurts us little people.  AIG also insures legitimate loans that would not have presented much risk had the economy not gone in the toilet...a condition they did much to bring about.  

Bonuses must be the wrong word for these payments.  The term strongly implies conditional payment contingent on delivering a higher than standard level of performance.  Fucking the investors to the tune of a few hundred billion dollars does not strike me as better than standard performance of fiduciary responsibilities.   If the payments are not conditional,  they are not bonuses.  If they are not debts owed to creditor institutions, they have no claim on money borrowed by our government, money that you and I will toil decades to repay.

Here in the US, most of us are just now looking at our federal tax unfortunate for the thieves at AIG that they come asking for pork money for their associates at exactly the moment when the average person's notion of the government's money is least abstract and most in focus as OUR tax money.

I am just at working stiff who always had to pay his own bills and always did so.  I obviously know nothing about the ethics of high finance.

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