Marketplace Scratch Pad

Ed Liddy, we hardly knew ya

Scott Jagow May 22, 2009

The captain of the Titanic — I mean, AIG — is leaving his job as soon as possible, while life rafts are still available. Since he’s quitting after just eight months, does that mean he only gets 66 cents of his $1 a year salary? Somehow, I think he’s making out fine.

For one thing, he made sure that Goldman Sachs got paid, in full, on credit default swap transactions with AIG. Liddy used to be on Goldman’s board, and he owns plenty of Goldman shares. Draw your own conclusions.

But I imagine what motivated Liddy to bail more than anything is the crap he had to put up with for $1 a year — the screaming about bonuses, the incompetence of the government’s meddlers, the revolting mess he inherited from his predecessor. Liddy called it “the most intellectually stimulating job in America.” I suspect that’s code for “Abandon all ships! Abandon all ships!”

One analyst tells Bloomberg: “It really is a terrible job, I’m not sure who would really want it.”

Well, the government gets to decide Liddy’s replacement, since the taxpayers own a majority stake in AIG. I’m sure another bored, retired CEO will welcome the challenge and think they can do better. And a few months from now, they might jump overboard too.

But if I had a vote, I’d say someone who could move along AIG’s repayment to taxpayers would be just fine. Someone who doesn’t have an obvious conflict of interest would be nice too.

You can read Liddy’s vanilla resignation letter here.

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