Investor extraordinaire Jim Rogers has harsh words for the government’s interventionist economic policy.
That policy, which he dates back to the Bush administration, verges on communism, he told Moneynews’s Dan Mangru in an interview.
“America now owns the car industry. America owns the mortgage industry. America owns a lot of the insurance industry,” Rogers said.
“Karl Marx must be somewhere standing up in his grave cheering.” And why is that? “America has become a socialist and maybe even communist nation in many ways,” Rogers said.
In Asia, by contrast, “they’re not doing that. In Asia, they’re getting rid of state and government ownership,” he said.
As for stimulus, Rogers said that President Bush approved two packages, President Obama one, and now there’s talk of a fourth.
“The first stimulus didn’t work. The second stimulus didn’t work. The third stimulus hasn’t worked,” he said.
“They’ve been doing the wrong thing for over two years. Nothing has worked. I don’t know why they think this is going to work. This is going to make things worse, too.”
Rogers said that Japan implemented a huge stimulus in the 1990s. “It didn’t work in Japan, and Japan was a creditor nation… It’s not going to work for us, either.”
Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan and White House economic adviser Larry Summers “used to say to the Japanese: ‘You’re doing it wrong. This approach isn’t going to work,’” Rogers said. “We’re doing exactly the same thing.”
Rogers isn’t too happy with the massive monetary easing the Fed has engineered under Chairman Ben Bernanke, either.
“Printing money has been tried many times throughout history in many countries,” he said. “It has never worked in the long term; it has never worked in the medium-term. Occasionally, it has worked in the short term.”
Still, he says, “Printing money is going to lead to serious problems down the road.”
The amounts involved are staggering, Rogers said. “They’ve already injected huge amounts of money into the system. The Fed has more than tripled its balance sheet in the past year or so.”
The federal government “has increased its own debt by four, five, six times,” he said.
“We don’t know much, because they took over Fannie Mae, AIG and the rest of them who had huge debts, which we are now responsible for,” he said.
Rogers scoffs at the conventional wisdom of diversification. “If you are a successful investor, and if you’ve made a lot of money, then maybe you’ll think about diversification,” he said. “But if you want to make money, if you want to build a fortune, you don’t diversify. You find the right horses, you back those horses, and you watch those horses very carefully.”
The 2008 AIG bonus pool just keeps getting larger and larger.
In a response to detailed questions from Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the company has offered a third assessment of exactly how much it paid out in bonuses last year.
And the new number, offered in a document submitted to Cummings on May 1, is the highest figure the company has disclosed to date.
AIG now says it paid out more than $454 million in bonuses to its employees for work performed in 2008.
That is nearly four times more than the company revealed in late March when asked by POLITICO to detail its total bonus payments. At that time, AIG spokesman Nick Ashooh said the firm paid about $120 million in 2008 bonuses to a pool of more than 6,000 employees.
The figure Ashooh offered was, in turn, substantially higher than company CEO Edward Liddy claimed days earlier in testimony before a House Financial Services Subcommittee. Asked how much AIG had paid in 2008 bonuses, Liddy responded: “I think it might have been in the range of $9 million.”
“I was shocked to see that the number has nearly quadrupled this time,” said Cummings.
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Insurance giant AIG, the same company that rewarded its executives with millions in bonuses and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on a spa retreat at an exclusive California resort and private jets, has been nickel and diming employees of private contractors injured in Iraq, with a pattern of denying and delaying their claims, a joint investigation between 20/20, the Los Angeles Times and the non-profit group ProPublica has found.
They analyzed some 30,000 claims filed by people working for American defense contractors overseas, covered by AIG under a federally-mandated program. Almost half – 43 percent – of the most serious cases were challenged by AIG, the analysis found, particularly those where claims were made for treatment of post traumatic stress disorder.
“It’s difficult for me to think it’s anything but a concentrated effort just to ignore these guys,” said Houston attorney Toby Cole, who represents many of the injured contractors. He said he’s never seen one insurance company treat so many people so badly.
“The pattern is to deny, to delay and to fight,” Cole said of AIG, which has been kept in business only because of $182 billion in taxpayer bailout money.
Private Contractors Fight Back Against AIG
“They (AIG) just threw me out on the street basically,” said Preston Wheeler, who was driving a truck for the KBR contracting firm when hise convoy was attacked by insurgents. He watched as fellow drivers were murdered and took bullets in his chest and arm.
Wheeler, who still has nightmares and flashbacks, said AIG didn’t believe him and tried to cut off his medical and disability benefits. After he retained an attorney and went to court, AIG agreed to reinstate his benefits, months after not giving him anything.
One of the bullets from the attack is still lodged in Wheeler’s underarm, but he says AIG won’t even respond to his request for a cat scan to see if he should have it removed. “It’s a foreign object,” Wheeler said. “It doesn’t belong in there, so it needs to come out.”
At a hearing last May, congressional investigators said AIG’s insurance business covering private contractors has been “extremely profitable” for the company.
AIG won’t disclose how much it’s making by handling what is essentially workmen’s compensation for contractors.