A man behind the door at an American International Group building in New York’s financial district on Tuesday. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)
In an extraordinary turn, the Federal Reserve agreed Tuesday night to take a nearly 80 percent stake in the troubled giant insurance company, the American International Group, in exchange for an $85 billion loan.
The Federal Reserve and Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase had been trying to arrange a $75 billion loan for the company to stave off the financial crisis caused by complex debt securities and credit default swaps. The Federal Reserve stepped in after it became clear Tuesday afternoon that the banking consortium would not be able to complete the deal.
Without the help, AIG was expected to be forced to file for bankruptcy protection.
The need for the loans became necessary after the major credit ratings agencies downgraded AIG late Monday, a move that likely to have forced the company to turn over billions of dollars in collateral to its derivatives trading partners worsening its financial health.
Until this week, it would have been unthinkable for the Federal Reserve to bail out an insurance company, and AIG’s request for help from the Fed of just a few days ago was rebuffed.
But with the prospect of a giant bankruptcy looming – one with unpredictable consequences for the world financial system – the Fed abandoned precedent and agreed to let the money flow.
By Michael J. De La Merced and Eric Dash
Published: September 17, 2008
Source: International Herald Tribune