Christina Gombar's Reviews > Fatal Risk: A Cautionary Tale of AIG's Corporate Suicide

Fatal Risk by Roddy Boyd
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Aug 03, 11

Read in August, 2011

You don't have to be an insurance/financial nerd to get this book.

This is the story behind the story of the financial crash. Everyone who thinks they've been hoodwinked by the government, Goldman Sachs, or AIG should read it.

I worked at AIG for 25 years ago and probably learned more about how the world works in my first week than in four years of college.

When I read in 2005 that legendary CEO Hank Greenberg was out, I thought, there goes the company. Actually, there went the US economy. This book supports my initial instinct that Eliot Spitzer, in ousting Greenberg on a spurious accounting fraud charge (just thrown out of court again yesterday) did more to enable the bubble and crash than any other single player.

It took only one month of Greenberg's absence -- and the terms of his severance were so onerous, he was not, as he should have been, kept on as an advisor -- for the business that sunk the company to be off and running. AIG was essentially brain-dead, a Leviathan without a head.

Boyd's fascination with his material is reflected in his vivid writing -- a challenge when the topic is financial products. More important, he comes to the subject with an open mind. Despite declaring his mission as exposing "financial filth", he steers clear of the condemnatory snark that characterizes so many of the other big books on the crisis.

I have read "Too Big to Fail", "All the Devils Are Here" and the hilariously naive "Griftopia." Of these, "Fatal Risk" is the most solid and informed book about the financial crisis, and should be read alongside the equally excellent "Fallen Giant" by Ron Shelp (former AIG-insider)which focusses on the history of AIG and the rise of Hank Greenberg.




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