In "please stop talking you're embarrassing yourself" news, Maurice Greenberg is once again beating the drum of "everything was great at AIG when I was there." Apparently he wants us to pretend that he didn't create the divisions, policies and strategies that destroyed the company, and put all the blame on his successor.
This is not to say that his successors didn't make any mistakes, but to point out that he seems to be of the opinion that there was nothing inherently wrong with AIG's business model, his successor merely mismanaged it. The problem here is that it was AIG's approach to the CDS business that led them to ruin, and it was an approach that existed when Mr. Greenberg was at the helm. AIG's leadership in the post-Maurice Greenberg era may have made some mistakes, but they were still following the example of their former leader.
Mr. Greenberg should be a topic of a white paper titled: "Business Denial: Leaders who refuse to confront the reality around their mistakes."
The refusal to confront reality is one of the things that most worries me about the future. In particular, it appears that many business leaders want to cling to the ideas that created the crisis, and pretend that the whole thing just "happened" or was a once in a blue moon event. In truth the crisis is a function of the very ideas that they refuse to let go of. How can we move on when many of our top leaders refuse to acknowledge their own errors?
In any event I'm appalled that Mr. Greenberg has the audacity to feign innocence with respect to AIG's demise. While I understand that he doesn’t want his legacy tarnished, I think he needs to accept that it's too late for that. At this point the best thing he can do for himself is to stop talking in public, and/or take some accountability for his own actions.
Disclosure: at the time of publishing the author didn't own a position in any of the companies mentioned in this article; the ideas expressed are solely the opinions of the author and shouldn't be viewed as financial or investment advice.