AIG bonuses: $165 million goes a long way

McClatchy NewspapersMarch 18, 2009 

WASHINGTON — Employees of American International Group's Financial Products division collectively received $165 million in bonuses as a reward for failure. That's a lot of dough. Ever wonder what $165 million would buy these days?

For starters, shares of AIG stock had plunged to $1.31 at midday trading Wednesday, down from $49.50 last June 2. At $1.31 a share, you could buy almost 126 million shares in the company.

Since President Barack Obama said Wednesday that he wanted the power to put AIG into government receivership, however, the company's stock might not be a smart buy.

Given the sorry state of the Big Three carmakers, that money could be put to use stimulating car purchases. For example, $165 million could buy 8,076 Ford Mustangs or 7,417 new Chevrolet Camaros, according to prices on the Web site Edmunds.com.

For the environmentally minded, it could buy 7,500 Toyota Priuses.

With baseball season just around the corner, $165 million could buy a pretty good ball team. That much money would have covered the payroll of each major league baseball team last season except the New York Yankees.

The $165 million could cover some noble goals of federal spending, too. It represents roughly three-quarters of the $211 million that the Obama administration proposes to spend on researching autism. It's also more than twice the $73 million that the administration wants to spend on improving health care in rural areas.

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