The U.S. government, for the first time since 2008, is officially a minority stakeholder in American International Group Inc. (NYSE: AIG
), with an $18 billion stock sale that made money for taxpayers.
The AIG stock sale will reduce the government's stake in the insurance company to about 22% from 53%.
The U.S. Treasury Department announced Sunday it was selling a large chunk of shares in the bailed-out insurer. The government saved AIG in 2008 and 2009 with a bailout package that totaled around $182 billion.
Including Monday's sale and money from AIG, the Treasury claims it has recovered a total of $197.4 billion from AIG - a $15 billion profit for taxpayers.
It's not surprising the government is selling AIG shares. What is unexpected is that such a large chunk of AIG stock will be released into the market at once, instead of spaced out over time.
One reason to shed the stock faster than planned is to credit U.S. President Barack Obama with taxpayer profit ahead of a tight race for the White House.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Monday, "We have been committed to exiting those investments as quickly as practicable. What it does demonstrate is an ongoing commitment to recover taxpayer money. It's safe to say the president is pleased with the progress being made as we wind down these investments."
But even with a multi-billion dollar profit, defending private-sector bailouts is an impossible sell to most voters. Click here to continue reading...