The AIG Story

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In this gripping read, AIG's legendary CEO of forty years, HankGreenberg, and corporate governance expert, Lawrence Cunningham,relate the complete, inside story of the rise and near-destructionof AIG. And it is a story extremely well told. Readers are regaledwith tales from Maurice R. "Hank" Greenberg's firsthand experienceat AIG, combined with Cunningham's additional research andinterviews.

Not another self-serving business biography or dry corporatehistory, The AIG Story is a ...

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In this gripping read, AIG's legendary CEO of forty years, HankGreenberg, and corporate governance expert, Lawrence Cunningham,relate the complete, inside story of the rise and near-destructionof AIG. And it is a story extremely well told. Readers are regaledwith tales from Maurice R. "Hank" Greenberg's firsthand experienceat AIG, combined with Cunningham's additional research andinterviews.

Not another self-serving business biography or dry corporatehistory, The AIG Story is a business adventure. In awell-crafted narrative, it tells the story of Greenberg, the freemarket visionary who, through his legendary genius for riskmanagement, unsurpassed organizational skill and sheer tenacity,transformed a scattered collection of insurance businesses intoAmerican International Group, a global financial colossus withnearly $1 trillion in assets on its balance sheets—and how, inthe process, he revolutionized the insurance industry.

At the same time, he AIG Story is a fascinating accountof the world's rough ride toward globalization and the triumph offree and open markets over communism, nationalism, protectionism,and isolationism, and the significant role Greenberg and AIG playedin that victory.

Integral to the story is the authors' well-informed take on the2008 global financial crisis and AIG's part in it. Greenberg andCunningham explain how, in 2005, beset by an army of overzealouslawyers and ambitious politicians—foremost among them, thenNew York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer—AIG was seriouslywounded. And Greenberg and Cunningham describe how, three yearslater, in 2008, in an effort to save Wall Street from its ownvices, the U.S. Government seized AIG, using it to funnelstaggering amounts of bailout money to Goldman Sachs and other"too-big-to-fail" banks. Through Greenberg's direct involvement andCunningham's craftsmanship, The AIG Story reveals much aboutthose events which, until now, has been kept hidden from thepublic.

The only firsthand account of American International Group'srise and near-destruction, The AIG Story is both thecompelling chronicle of one of the great business success storiesof the twentieth century and a captivating history of the evolutionof global capitalism over the past six decades.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
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.
From the Publisher
“Summing Up: Recommended.  General readers; alllevels of undergraduate students; professionals.” (Choice, 1 August 2013)

"Did the U.S. government break the law when it seized control ofAmerican International Group during the financial crisis of 2008'In 'The AIG Story,' the man who built the giant insurer says thatthe answer is yes and explains his reasoning. Former AIG chiefexecutive Maurice R. 'Hank' Greenberg—along with hisco-author, Lawrence A. Cunningham—also offers a fascinatingcompany history and an account of how, after Mr. Greenberg's ousterin 2005, AIG made the disastrous mortgage bets that drove it intothe arms of the feds." (The Wall Street Journal)

"[A] strong, fast-moving and well-crafted book...In effect,there are two stories here, both well told: the first, the story ofa man who dreamed the American dream and realized it through drive,determination, and adherence to principle; and the second, thestory of what seems to be an evolving model, with governmentofficials, always for political reasons, exercising whatincreasingly approaches operational control over American business.It’s to the great credit of Greenberg that he's neveraccepted the validity of the second and has devoted his life andgreat energies to keeping the first alive and well." (TheNational Interest)

"The early chapters of 'The AIG Story' trace the acquisition ofits U.S. units and international expansion, and offer interestinganecdotes. The book also paints a clear picture of thehard-driving, profit-centered corporate culture Mr. Greenbergfamously fostered at AIG." (Business Insurance)

"The AIG Story is well documented, telling of how the companyvirtually collapsed and Greenberg was pushed out of leadership. Thebook has much information to share with financial leaders to helpgrow a business and to protect the identity of a company duringperiods of economic downturns."—ABA Banking Journal

"The only first-hand account of AIG's rise and near destruction,this book is a compelling chronicle of one of the great businesssuccess stories of the twentieth century as well as a history ofthe evolution of global capitalism over the past sixdecades."—Continuity Risk & Insurance

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781118345870
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 1/29/2013
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 265,119
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Maurice R. Greenberg is Chairman and CEO of C.V. Starr& Co., Inc. He joined C.V. Starr & Co., Inc. as VicePresident in 1960 and was given the additional responsibilities ofPresident of American Home Assurance Company in 1962. He waselected Director of C.V. Starr & Co., Inc. in 1965, Chairmanand CEO in 1968 and continues in that role. Mr. Greenberg retiredas Chairman and CEO of American International Group, Inc. (AIG) inMarch 2005, after serving as Chief Executive Officer from 1967.Under his leadership, AIG became the largest insurance company inthe world and generated unprecedented value for AIG shareholders.During the nearly forty years of his leadership, AIG's market valuegrew from $300 million to $l80 billion.

Lawrence A. Cunningham is the Henry St. George Tucker IIIResearch Professor at the George Washington University Law Schooland Director of GW's Center for Law, Economics and Finance (C-LEAF)in New York. Previous books include Contracts in the Real World:Stories of Popular Contracts and Why They Matter (CambridgeUniversity Press 2012). His writings—on a wide range ofbusiness and legal topics—have also appeared in leadingscholarly journals and such periodicals as the New YorkTimes, the Financial Times, and the New York DailyNews.

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Table of Contents

Chairman’s Note xi

Preface xiii

Acknowledgments xxi

Part One

Chapter 1 Independence 3

Chapter 2 Innovation 19

Chapter 3 Succession 31

Chapter 4 Vision and Culture 43

Chapter 5 The Internationalist 53

Chapter 6 Raising the Iron Curtain 63

Chapter 7 Opening Trade in Services 79

Chapter 8 Reopening China 95

Chapter 9 The Life Business 111

Chapter 10 The Domestic Front 125

Chapter 11 Investments 139

Chapter 12 Governance 149

Part Two

Interlude 167

Chapter 13 Hostile Change 171

Chapter 14 Restating History 189

Chapter 15 Civil War 203

Chapter 16 Saving the Starr Foundation 213

Chapter 17 Chaos 223

Chapter 18 Nationalization 243

Epilogue 261

Notes 265

About the Companion Web Site 309

About the Authors 311

Index 313

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 25, 2013

    A real page-turner. Many interesting stories woven together to

    A real page-turner. Many interesting stories woven together to describe the building of a big international company at a time
    when there were few multi-national companies and years before globalization. Fast-paced. The stories unfold quickly from
    year to year and place to place with very interesting people and ideas. Eye-opening. Most people evidently have no idea what AIG
    really was from 1970 to 2005 when Hank Greenberg led it or what happened in a few years after he left that put
    AIG at the center of the financial crisis and made it a poster-child for how bad bailouts are.
    This book will correct a lot of misunderstandings and inspire new debate about corporate governance and financial regulation.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 11, 2013

    Easily rate this book "Exceptional". An incredibly ins

    Easily rate this book "Exceptional". An incredibly insightful account of a towering business figure of the 20th
    and 21st centuries. The sections detailing Greenberg's long-term  investment in key global markets, collaboration with the government on international trade rules for services, and approaches to multiple-layer financial control systems are worthy of case studies to benefit current and future students of management. Regarding Greenberg's "trials by newspaper" orchestrated by Spitzer, Greenberg certainly presents a much more believable case.  Finally, as a former CEO of a publicly-held company, I completely agree with Greenberg's assertion that form over substance in the boardroom is a very dangerous disease that is unfortunately spreading malignantly among American corporations. Much to our detriment.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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