Will AIG Implosion 2.0 Lead To QE 3.0?

Tyler Durden's picture

There was a time when everyone thought CDOs are perfectly safe. That ended up being a tad incorrect. It resulted in AIG blowing up, recording hundreds of billions in losses and almost taking the rest of the financial world with it, leading ultimately to the first iteration of quantitative easing. A few years thereafter, several blogs and fringe elements suggested that munis are the next major cataclysm and will likely require Fed bail outs (some time before Meredith Whitney came on the public scene with her apocalyptic call). It would be only fitting that the same AIG that blew up the world the first time around, end up being the same company that does so in 2011, and with an instrument that just like back then only an occasional voice warned is a weapon of mass destruction: municipal bonds. AIG dropped over 6% today following some very unpleasasnt disclosures about its muni outlook, and corporate liquidity implications arising therefrom: "American International Group Inc., the bailed-out insurer, said it faces increased risk of losses on its $46.6 billion municipal bond portfolio and that defaults could pressure the company’s liquidity." So how long before we discover that Goldman has been lifting every AIG CDS for the past quarter? And how much longer after that until someone leaks a document that the company's muni strategy was orchestrated by one Joe Cassano?

From the Risk Factors section in the company's just issued 10-K:

The value of our investment portfolio is exposed to the creditworthiness of state and municipal governments. We hold a large portfolio of state and municipal bonds ($46.6 billion at December 31, 2010), primarily in Chartis, and, because of the budget deficits that most states and many municipalities are continuing to incur in the current economic environment, the risks associated with this portfolio have increased. Negative publicity surrounding certain states and municipal issues has negatively affected the value of our portfolio and reduced the liquidity in the state and municipal bond market. Defaults, or the prospect of imminent defaults, by the issuers of state and municipal bonds could cause our portfolio to decline in value and significantly reduce the portfolio’s liquidity, which could also adversely affect AIG Parent’s liquidity if AIG Parent then needed, or was required by its capital maintenance agreements, to provide additional capital support to the insurance subsidiaries holding the affected state and municipal bonds. As with our fixed income security portfolio generally, rising interest rates would also negatively affect the value of our portfolio of state and municipal bonds and could make those instruments more difficult to sell. A decline in the liquidity or market value of these instruments, which are carried at fair value for statutory purposes, could also result in a decline in the Chartis entities’ capital ratios and, in turn, require AIG Parent to provide additional capital to those entities.

Some more gasoline in the fire from Bloomberg:

AIG said that “several” issuers of bonds it holds have been downgraded, amid budget pressures. As of Dec. 31, the company had more than $700 million of state general-obligation bonds from California, which has the lowest Standard & Poor’s credit rating of any U.S. state. It also held more than $200 million in the bonds from Illinois.

Chartis’s portfolio has been reduced to about $36.3 billion, and 99 percent of the municipal holdings are rated A or better, AIG Chief Financial Officer David Herzog said in a conference call today with analysts.

And the greatest thing is that like "back then" nobody has any clue how bad the situation truly is:

“The risk is real,” said Phillip Phan, professor at the
Johns Hopkins Carey Business School in Baltimore, in an
interview today. “They’re going to have to do a lot more
homework before they can quantify how bad the situation is.”

In typical financial fraud fashion (and for a great corollary on this, read Jon Weil's recent expose on how Citigroup, with the assistance of KPMG, lied to everyone about its risk exposure), the company represented that all is well... three short months ago.

The insurer had said in its third-quarter filing in
November that it “does not expect any significant defaults in
portfolio holdings of municipal issuers over the near term.”

People are shocked. SHOCKED.

Justin Hoogendoorn, a bond strategist with BMO Capital Markets in Chicago, said he was surprised by AIG’s statement. “What are they seeing that we’re not seeing?” he said.

And yet another confirmation that our capital market is nothing but a mixture of central planning and certified idiocy:

“Since about mid-January, you’ve got a nice rebound in the
market,” Hoogendoorn said.

Some more facts:

AIG’s gross unrealized gains on the municipal bond portfolio narrowed to $1.73 billion on Dec. 31 from $3.32 billion at the end of the third quarter, according to the filing. Rival insurer Travelers Cos., which holds a $39.5 billion municipal portfolio, said last month that gross unrealized gains on the securities narrowed to $1.6 billion from $2.8 billion during the period.

The figures, reflecting market fluctuations that aren’t counted toward earnings, are monitored by investors and rating firms as a gauge of financial strength.

Property-casualty insurers buy municipal bonds with policyholder premiums and hold the securities to pay future claims. Travelers, the only insurer in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, said this month its portfolio may face a higher risk of defaults, which could result in investment losses and reduced income.

“There are a number of things that you can be concerned about at AIG, and this is one of them,” said Cliff Gallant, an analyst at KBW Inc., who has an “underperform” rating on the stock.

We can't wait until it is confirmed that Zero Hedge readers (or at least 36% of them) were right, and the Fed will have no choice but to bail out AIG (again) this time by buying up muni bonds.

The investor presentation can be read here in its entirety, while the earning call transcript is reproduced below, courtesy of Bloomberg.


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camoes's picture

Crashing the Market by AIG, Volume 2

StychoKiller's picture

Who is Joe Cassano?  The name looks familiar...

the mad hatter's picture

also by AIG:

"The Dummie's Guide to taking the Economy hostage and raping the taxpayer"

kindle and ebook versions coming soon

Monkey Craig's picture

i bet they hive off Chartis and it will be owned by Fed and Treasury (i.e. taxpayers)

trav7777's picture

you could, um, read that 1st link and see that what you say isn't even remotely accurate

TruthInSunshine's picture

I was going to edit it.

These damn bloggers twist everything. I should have read the whole article first.


HOWEVER, this is ominous, AFAIAC:

"Chinese exporters want their money in the local currency, which is regarded as more stable compared to the US dollar. They are also in a position to have their way because Indian buyers do not have an alternative source of low-cost goods, sources said."

asdasmos's picture

What about this exchange on CNBC today? (Feb 25th 2011)


 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5WC9CpdeHF8

or if you prefer the cnbc link.....

 - http://www.cnbc.com/id/15840232/?video=1817702861&play=1


Damon Vickers, Nine Points Capital Management founder talks about QE2 and why he thinks bernanke is buying up the US debt.


IMO, the best part:


Carl:We issued ahh....30 billion in 7 year notes this morning and yields are down. I mean the vigilantes, we always say, if they are so worried, why are they hiding?

Damon: Who did we issue those to?

Car:      Whoever bought them.  I mean the point is supply came online and it was absorbed....

Damon: Who was that?

Carl:       .....in a week where risk was off.

Damon: Who bought those bonds?

Lady:   Who did buy it? Was it all the Fed? You think nobody bought?

Damon: Who bought those bonds?

Carl:    Could have been the Fed, could have been the Chinese, Japanese.

Damon: I dont think so. I don't think sales are taking place. Thats why QE2 Exists. They are issuing debt and printing paper and printing money because there is not the absorbtive capacity of the world to absorb the debt, and thats where we are.


Buck Johnson's picture

I saw the clip and Carl didn't really have an answer (he knew but didn't want to say).  Damon had a point and I agree with him, ask yourself this.  What country or countries have the ability every week to buy our treasuries or munis to the tune of bilions of dollars if not tens of billions of dollars?  If they have that much capacity of cash, why don't they use it to buy things and companies in the world and in the US instead of giving it to us for a paultry interest rate.  Why not use part or all the money in their own country to prop up their state finances and such, instead of buying our treasuries and muni's at a paultry interest rate.  They aren't buying these, it's the fed and the sick thing is that everybody in the US market and financial media knows it, but they have a vested interest to keep it going.  It's the conspiracy of silence, these "individuals" who right books and blogs and even are on CNBC that make these statements aren't just pulling stuff out of the air.  They have contacts and are able to process and look for the data that would point to that conclusion.  When you subtract everything out the only thing that it can possibly be is the US printing money to buy treasuries, in essence monetizing their debt.

I think that many of the first world countries would love to repudiate their debt, but they are afraid.  Afraid of the bankers and afraid of the unknown.  They know that the bankers even getting a wiff of this would do everything they can to stop it, including sinking said countries economy in order to loot it later (moving up the time table).  Then afraid of the unknown, what Damon didn't say was that doing this could change the power structure and dynamic of the world.  It wouldn't be US centric and you can bet your bottom dollar that whatever currency that will be the reserve currency will be at best will be fair at worse more leaning to the resource rich areas of the world.

OMG's picture

Spot On! are you the same BJ that used to post on RS?

topcallingtroll's picture

yeah there was 400 billion total in rmb exchanges last year.  How large is the dollar currency market? twenty trillion, 40 trillion?

I'm not too worried just yet.

Saxxon's picture

The first part is correct.

bunkermeatheadprogeny's picture

Fucking QE's, Fucking TARP, Fucking Fed.

All these bailouts denied me the satisfaction of hearing that executives started blowing their brains out in their corvettes like Enron.

Dr. Porkchop's picture

Come now, how could they have seen this coming? It's like you expect CFOs and CEOs to know anything about the stuff they sign off on.



smlbizman's picture

think of the bernank...

think of a circus...

think of sticks with spinning plates...

think of ben running back and forth spinning plates...

now think of how this act always end....



I think I need to buy a gun's picture

The sheeple fight over dollars and protests and where is Joe Cassano? england, island, australia?  Amazing.....

Milestones's picture

Like I said months ago--this isn't a casino, what we are looking at is a Carny runway. Step right up and win yourself a panda Bear little lady!!!     Milestones 

Xkwisetly Paneful's picture

Chartis is woefully underfunded too. Their claims are alway's worse than expected.

Salesman can't move Sun life policies either in light of the bailout.


Without Berkowitz this POS would be trading for half what it is now.

Misean's picture

So, AIG isn't a Phoenix rising from the ashes, but an Icarus? Or is it an iverse-phoenix? Is the opposite of a phoenix a black swan?

Dr. Porkchop's picture

I believe it's actually a turd in need of a polish.

Misean's picture

That's actually not that difficult a trick.


Making AIG shine is several orders of magnitude more complicated.

trav7777's picture

so, the banks will be made whole on their muni bond holdings as AIG is again used as a gigantic money conduit to wall street

Dr. Porkchop's picture

I'm a pig, I want my turn at the trough dammit!!!

John McCloy's picture

Yes Trav your dead on..nothing but a slushfund.

Crassus's picture

True, but they provide many, many services to the government. Ask Frank Wisner.

Life of Illusion's picture



…and eventually assets liquidated and sold off for a loss to political insiders.

TruthInSunshine's picture

AIG is like Herpes; the gift that keeps giving.

jmc8888's picture

But of course that's 36 percent given all the options to purchase.  I'm sure the number of ZH readers that thought municipal bonds + any and/or all on that list (at some point) would raise the number...much much higher.

89 percent did not pick other, and of that 11 percent, I'm sure many were thinking of 'other' as 'all of the above'.  (even if it asked for 'first')

So when ZH quotes 36 percent, they are being very conservative with their estimate.  I'm sure the actual number that expected municipal bond buying, is ultimately much higher.

It will also show us exactly what this monetary system allows.  Help destroy the world, get bailed out, still have the toxic stuff, rinse, repeat and tell others it's a brand new and unexpected short term liquidity problem.

AIG needs to meet Glass-Steagall once and for all.  No more fraudulent bailouts. Someone needs to put a chastity belt on this serial fornicator spreading their Gonna-Herpa-Syphil-Aids.  But don't you see, in this imperial monetary system everyone is balls deep in everyone else's crapper.  Monetary Condoms? Like Willie Nelson said in some movie, "You know how much condom's cost in the 60's? Hell neither do I, we didn't use them"

camoes's picture

Short AIG bitchez!!!!

Sad Sufi's picture

Yes Trav,

"Bailout" needed for muni losses goes not to the communities that are bankrupt, but to the banks, again.  Taxes taken directly to gambling bankers.

Amish Pirate's picture

Just in time for MBIA CEBO's next week

f16hoser's picture

Really? Goldman Sachs white Shoe Boys need another bonus?

f16hoser's picture


buzzsaw99's picture

Benmouche is one of "them". No matter how much money AIG loses Benmouche will get his millions. It isn't about AIG or the taxpayer, it is about the maggots in high places.

Seasmoke's picture

Goldman is going to have be smarter this time how to get the money out the backdoor of AIG

No Bid's picture

Jesus Christ lock up Merideth Whitney.  Her call is two years to late and everyone knows that municipalities lag the real economy in recessions.  Boring.  AIG owns munis and munis suck.  Great. 


Unless they've bought everything shown to them, kinda like they did with CDS, they shouldn't be in that bad of shape.  I take it those idiots probably bought anything with 5%+ yield over the last year though.  Probably own every mello roos and dirt bond in existence.  If that's the case, we've found the perfect match.  Those shit bonds go under and so does the firm that refuses to look at what they buy.  


PS - CDS as a product is perfectly fine, a nice replacement for ratings agencies.  Buying with indescretion is the problem.

topcallingtroll's picture

actually in my case buying a cds with indiscretion was a problem once too.


High quality munis have a higher interest rate than treasuries right now in the longer durations.  These bonds in most cases are backed by tax revenue with priority payment. For any tax bracket if you are buying treasuries you ought to be buying quality, carefully chosen munis instead (of the same duration)

prophet's picture

squeeze turns into freeze

No Bid's picture

I don't mean to be rude.  I'm new here.  But I definitely mean buying.  Know what you're buying.  Know why you're buying it.  You can't assume that sellers are omnipotent and that buyers are casual.

JW n FL's picture

if you are willing to hold till term... and you are not looking for the income... and... and... and... fuck it, call it high risk.

ft65's picture

JW n FL / ^TrInIty^ I now understand why you are known as "Captain Underpants" at another place. Is there really a need for unnecessary expletives? Still I suppose it's better than talking about guns, ammo and fighting off the hoards

No Bid's picture

Yeah I meant selling, was drunk.  Don't buy munis with indescretion, don't sell CDS with indescretion.  Thanks for the save.  I'll walk away in shame now.

mynhair's picture

Oh sure, pick on AIG for a QE3 excuse, like one is needed.

mannfm11's picture

There won't be a QE3.  Bennie is going to find out how stupid he is after long interest rates have moved in the opposite direction of what he assumed due to the disaster he has created.  He and Greenspan should be tied to long ropes and swung in opposite directions, run together like a couple of big clappers.  They could call it the collision of the bubbles.  

plocequ1's picture

Will someone press the fucking reset button already? I hate prolonged death. Bring it on already bitchez.

LMAOLORI's picture

Taxpayers already own over 92.1 percent  AIG patd back the Fed but not the taxpayers



mannfm11's picture

What a bunch of crap.  I had a friend bring up AIG a month or so ago, him having read or heard something in the media about the massive recovery.  I informed him they reverse split the stock something like 20 to 1 to put some fire under the price movements and get the suckers interested.  It was in the 60's then.  I noticed it was back down to around $40 yesterday, another Wall Street pump and dump.  

I don't know about these municipals.  A portfolio of $40 billion, I would suspect that bar a disaster, the losses are probably bearable.  If not, there is a lot more fire where that smoke is originating.  I mean, what entity of any size doesn't have exposure?

Where I was stunned is I recall the agreement the government supposedly made in the AIG bailout.  It was 80% of the company and AIG still owed the money.  Wasn't that a $180 billion bullet they took?  That is total bullshit that amount or anything near it was paid off, as its peak market cap wasn't much larger than that prior to the huge loss.  How much of this stock was bought under $1 a share prior to the reverse split that put speed into the changes in the price, of course to get public traders interested?  Once the government dilutes this bag of crap, there will be another reverse split to keep it listed.  

Eireann go Brach's picture

Soon AIG will be speed dialing Ben on the bat phone! I am shocked that not one person in this country has paid a visit to the home of Bernanke, and hung him upside down from the roof of his house beating him like a pinata!

buzzsaw99's picture

the fed they may yell at you

the fed they may hit you

the fed they may eat your last piece of meat