Greenberg collaborates with Cunningham (Law/George Washington Univ.; Contracts in the Real World, 2012) to tell his side of the story of the incredible rise, and even more precipitous fall, of AIG, once the world's largest insurance company and the epicenter of one of the biggest bailouts ever.
The authors divide their account into two parts separated by Greenberg's resignation from his leadership positions in the company in early 2005 as a result of an orchestrated press campaign organized by then-crusading N.Y. State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, whose own subsequent downfall was even more complete than that of AIG, which, in this presentation, he had worked so assiduously to destroy. The authors claim that what led to the 2008 bailout was the incompetence of the leadership that took over after Greenberg quit. His replacements are said to have lost sight of the significance of the risks incurred by the financial derivatives unit responsible for the credit-default swap business, the collapse of which forced the government's hand. Few of Greenberg's identified opponents, including AIG's outside directors, the law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison, and employees of the state's attorney general’s office, emerge with their reputations intact. Only now is the company emerging from government ownership, and the authors examine Greenberg’s career building the biggest insurance company in the world. A Korean War veteran, Greenberg brought Western insurance products to the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, helped open China to Western finance, and provided indispensable, sometimes covert, services to the U.S. government.
A useful contribution to the ongoing shaping of the story of the recent financial crisis.