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About the AuthorRon Shelp has many years of experience in both the corporate and nonprofit sectors. He served as a domestic and international troubleshooter and also supervised world-wide government relations, corporate communications, and advertising/sales promotion at AIG. He also served on a number of AIG boards. Following his departure from AIG, Shelp worked at Celanese Corporation as a member of the management committee and for Burson-Marsteller. He later became president and CEO of an Internet company. Shelp's nonprofit experience includes serving as president and CEO of New York City Partnership, which was founded by David Rockefeller. Al Ehrbar is an experienced business journalist, who was formerly an editor and writer at Fortune and chief economics writer for the Wall Street Journal.
Author 1Ronald Shelp
Author 2Al Ehrbar
Edition Number2
Editorial Review"Ron Shelp…does a great job of delving into the individual personalities and their motivations, leaving the reader with a front row seat to AIG’s genesis, growth, and fall from grace." (The Investment Professional) "All Hank Greenberg ever wanted was "an unfair advantage." That is the phrase that Ron Shelp chooses to sum up Maurice R. Greenberg, the deposed chairman of the American International Group and the subject of his "Fallen Giant: The Amazing Story of Hank Greenberg and the History of A.I.G.," and it would be hard to improve on. Insurance, Mr. Greenberg realized early, is the game of playing only when the odds are in one’s favor. For instance, if a far-flung customer wants insurance against a kidnapping — a risk that few others will touch — chances are that you can charge a lot for the policy. As Mr. Greenberg did not fail to notice, plenty of overseas executives are kidnapped, but many more are not — and they pay premiums, too. Throw in a few other "unfair" advantages, like lobbying, cajoling or otherwise persuading governments to do one’s bidding as well as, quite possibly, obscuring some of the truth about one’s operations, and you have the secret of a great insurance fortune. Accusations of cooking the books more or less forced Mr. Greenberg to resign last year. Mr. Shelp, a former Greenberg lieutenant and troubleshooter at A.I.G., wrote the book ostensibly to explain his old boss’s fall from grace. He asks some very good questions. One is why Mr. Greenberg would risk his $3 billion fortune on some "fairly modest fiddling." Another is this: What did Eliot Spitzer, New York’s attorney general and now its governor-elect, have against Mr. Greenberg, whom he all but accused of criminality on Sunday morning television? Then, after the A.I.G. board forced Mr. Greenberg to resign, Mr. Spitzer neglected to charge him after all. Well, never mind. (Mr. Spitzer did file civil charges, which Mr. Greenberg is contesting.) Mr. Shelp leaves no doubt that A.I.G. was a master at shaping and, at times, bending the rules, but he argues that the offenses that got Mr. Greenberg canned were pretty modest, and notes that reversing the deals in question resulted in a write-down of only 3 percent of A.I.G.’s equity… …Alas, even modest fiddling, such as the "earnings management" he was accused of, is no longer tolerated in American business. Mr. Greenberg seems not to have noticed. But even if A.I.G. hadn’t changed, the world had". (New York Times, December 17, 2006)
Number of Pages289