Only a few short months ago, the very mention of AIG could bring the blood of its shareholders — by which we mean the entire American public — to a frothing, rolling boil. But by the sound of reports of today's AIG shareholders meeting, most of the country has moved on to the can't-cry-anymore stage. No Code Pink protesters materialized outside of the soon-to-be-sold building at 72 Wall Street to hound beleaguered, soon-to-be-departing chairman and chief executive Edward Liddy, and only a scarce amount of reporters and TV cameras were on hand. "I was expecting more of a crowd," one Kenneth Steiner, of Great Neck, New York, told the AP, assessing the crowd of approximately 80 shareholders and scattered employees. "With the stock as low as it is, I expected more."
But other than a brief rally of excitement over the ousting of six members of AIG's board, who did not attend the meeting — "[t]hey left like rats leaving a sinking ship," Steiner gloated. "Goodbye and good riddance!" — it seems to have been a somber event.
At one point, a pair of retired septuagenarians stood to ask Liddy if he thought the stock, which is now hovering around $1.16, would ever appreciate.
"What should I do?" she asked.
Liddy apologized for the couple's losses, but declined to offer more specific directions.
"I'm such a bad stock picker," he said. "I'm hesitant to give you advice."
As the dialogue continued, he said that AIG stock could recover, but that it's "not a black and white answer" about how the couple should handle the stock.
"But I wish you luck," Liddy said, drawing audible groans from the audience.
Employees looked on morosely: "It's like watching your house burn down," one former employee told Bloomberg, after the meeting. "The emotional toll has been worse than the financial toll, if you can believe that. It's an American tragedy."