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Businessweek Archives

German and French banks got $36 billion from AIG Bailout


We officially moved into the next stage of the crisis today. AIG, likely under pressure from the administration, decided to come clean about where most of the bailout money was going. In a press release with several attachments, the struggling insurer detailed which counterparties had gotten about $100 billion of the bailout funds.

I added up the various lists provided by AIG by country (see below), and the results were quite revealing. About $44 billion went to counterparties headquartered in the U.S., such as Goldman Sachs and states such as California and Virginia.

But as I expected, the majority of the funds—$58 billion—went to banks headquartered outside the U.S. The big winners were French and German banks, which pulled in $19 billion and $17 billion respectively.

To put these numbers in perspective, remember that the U.S. fiscal stimulus bill passed in February provided only $27.5 billion for highway and bridge construction.

In effect, the U.S. Treasury and Fed have been bailing out the rest of the world, to a massive degree. Is this a good thing? Perhaps.

But the U.S. cannot be the banker for the entire world. Now that the list are public knowledge, Congress is going to balk at providing any more open-ended financing for foreign counterparties. We are faced a global crisis, and it can only be solved through global action.

Here’s the country table. The detailed bank table is under the break.


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