The proposed sale of the US government’s remaining shares in the once louche and illiquid AIG, coming after Monday’s successful bond sale, marks another seemingly happy milestone in the annals of the TARP bailout. According to ProPublica: “Of the 779 investments made by the Treasury, 404 have resulted in a profit. 49 of the investments resulted in a loss. So far, the profits amount to $35 billion, while the losses amount to $5 billion. 326 of the investments are still outstanding.”
That investment record–nearly 10 winners for every loser, and a gain of seven bucks for every dollar lost–is better than even Bernie Madoff pretended to deliver. How? One way to be profitable is to invest in companies that aren’t afflicted by big tax burdens. Those companies get to keep all the money they make. As Reuters reported earlier this year, AIG is just such a company, making a tax move that “essentially means AIG will not pay tax on tens of billions of dollars in income in the coming years, thanks to benefits that stem from its financial crisis-era losses.” Yet despite the inability to collect significant taxes from AIG, the US marks its investment in the company a profitable one.