Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Minor Run on AIG Subsidiary in Singapore

There was a run on AIA, a subsidiary of AIG, in Singapore today. From Time World:

Philip Aee is a patient man. Patient — and very worried. Holding a piece of paper saying he was the 1,600th person in line, the 60-year-old retiree had been waiting for three hours on September 17 outside the offices of AIG's Singapore subsidiary, AIA. The sun beat down on the sunflower-yellow facade of the company's fifty-year-old flagship building in the heart of Singapore's office district, around the corner from AIA's new offices. "I never thought this would happen to AIG," said Aee, shaking his head in amazement.

Aee was well aware of the $85 billion lifeline extended to troubled insurance giant AIG by the U.S. Federal Reserve several hours before. But the news did little to calm his nerves. A day after Asian markets took a beating as investors dumped stocks in the wake of the Lehman Bros. collapse and Merrill Lynch buyout, anxiety over U.S. financial companies was still spreading. By mid-afternoon, a crowd of roughly 150 people still swarmed the entrance of AIA Singapore Ltd., many trying to pull out their funds or cancel their insurance policies.
**Update: Here's some video from CNN:

Elsewhere in Asia, government agencies and AIG managers are trying to calm policy holders:

Thailand-based AIA says its financial position remains strong
Chinese insurance regulator monitors U.S. market crisis
China: Govt officials reassure investors on AIA operation
AIG tries to put policy holders' fears at rest

The China Daily was surprisingly muted for a negative story from the US. (Usually they're very sensational):
Policyholders are worried about their investments in AIA, the Hong Kong arm of troubled US giant American International Group (AIG), although AIA said its operations are sound and financial strength is healthy.

Many customers have called up the insurer, which took up a 16.2 percent market share in Hong Kong by the end of last year, to ask whether their investments are at stake, Tim Wong, an AIA agent, told China Daily.

"I can feel investors are losing confidence. The issue will no doubt have an impact on the company's reputation and that will make it more difficult for us to find insurance customers in the near future," Wong said.

David Chan, an AIA fund buyer, said he will re-examine his investment portfolio, though his plan with AIA seems to be unaffected by the AIG crisis.

"The issue has really got me worried. It seems there is no safe place to put my money," Chan said.

Chan has been buying funds with AIA for two years, which cost him around HK$50,000.
If this turns into a regional panic, AIG could be worth a lot less than the Fed originally thought.


Max said...

Credit panic hits historic levels

Many analysts also blasted the US authorities for adopting an arbitrary approach to financial rescues – saving AIG but not Lehman – that was impossible for investors to predict and therefore did nothing to boost confidence.

patient renter said...

that was impossible for investors to predict and therefore did nothing to boost confidence.

Dean Baker has a post today about how the arbitrary nature of the government's bailouts de-incentivizes stock shorting, which he argues serves a useful purpose in routing out asset bubbles.

Max said...

Who needs to de-incentivize when you can ban outright?