Financial Crisis: Review of Federal Reserve System Financial Assistance to American International Group, Inc.

GAO-11-616 Published: Sep 30, 2011. Publicly Released: Oct 31, 2011.
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In September 2008, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (Federal Reserve Board) approved emergency lending to American International Group, Inc. (AIG)--the first in a series of actions that, together with the Department of the Treasury, authorized $182.3 billion in federal aid to assist the company. Federal Reserve System officials said that their goal was to avert a disorderly failure of AIG, which they believed would have posed systemic risk to the financial system. But these actions were controversial, raising questions about government intervention in the private marketplace. This report discusses (1) key decisions to provide aid to AIG; (2) decisions involving the Maiden Lane III (ML III) special purpose vehicle (SPV), which was a central part of providing assistance to the company; (3) the extent to which actions were consistent with relevant law or policy; and (4) lessons learned from the AIG assistance. To address these issues, GAO focused on the initial assistance to AIG and subsequent creation of ML III. GAO examined a large volume of AIG-related documents, primarily from the Federal Reserve System--the Federal Reserve Board and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (FRBNY)--and conducted a wide range of interviews, including with Federal Reserve System staff, FRBNY advisors, former and current AIG executives, AIG business counterparties, credit rating agencies, potential private financiers, academics, finance experts, state insurance officials, and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) officials. Although GAO makes no new recommendations in this report, it reiterates previous recommendations aimed at improving the Federal Reserve System's documentation standards and conflict-of-interest policies.

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