Sunday, January 04, 2009

The Beautiful Machine..

Great reading article posted on WashingtonPost.. The Beautiful Machine

Here is a passage:

  • 5: 'Cave or Terminate'

    In late 1992, Greenberg once again summoned Sosin to AIG headquarters. He was livid over two recent Financial Products deals with entities controlled by the Edper Group, a giant Canadian holding company owned by billionaires Edward and Peter Bronfman.

    The first involved the purchase of bonds, which amounted to a loan to one of the Edper entities. The firm occasionally ventured into such credit deals as part of larger transactions, but only with highly rated companies and with provisions that opened an exit ramp if the bonds started to default. "We want to be the first rat to leave the sinking ship," Sosin told his troops, reflecting his unease with credit deals, which their system couldn't tame.

    When this particular ship sank, Financial Products sold out as quickly as it could, but not before it lost $100 million. The second deal, involving a swap with extra layers of complexity, was going fine. But the $100 million loss in the first deal and the intricate machinations in the other had spooked Greenberg.

    Sitting in an anteroom to his office, in a favorite red leather chair, Greenberg demanded that Sosin stop doing some of the deals that had made Financial Products a Wall Street darling.

    Greenberg handed Sosin a document that would change the terms of their joint venture. Greenberg was daring Sosin to flinch. Instead, Sosin walked out.

    He visited his lawyer, Ronald Rolfe, at Cravath Swaine & Moore in New York.

    "I said, 'What can I do?' And he said, "Cave or terminate.' "