NEW YORK—Wall Street narrowly dodged a devastating blow to its reputation Wednesday as insurance giant American International Group seriously considered suing the federal government over the terms of its 2008 bailout, a move that experts agreed would have destroyed the tremendous amount of trust and affection the U.S. populace currently feels toward big banks.
Sources said if AIG had decided to join a $25 billion lawsuit over the assistance it received from from taxpayers following a devastating economic crisis for which no one has been held accountable, then citizens who now feel a deep fondness for the nation’s financial institutions may have become outright angry with them instead.
“Wall Street really won me over in 2008 when it veered toward total collapse after years of predatory lending practices,” said Jessica Woodward, 37, a Cincinnati-based software engineer. “And the banks definitely had a special place in my heart after they continued foreclosing on homeowners they shouldn’t have loaned money to in the first place.”
“But if AIG had gone ahead with this lawsuit—well, I’m not sure that’s something I could have turned a blind eye to,” she added.
Many Americans echoed Woodward’s disapproval, saying it would have been “terribly unfortunate” if the company had gone ahead with its plan to sue the government just a few years after receiving a $182 billion bailout package, considering all the work Wall Street had done to rebuild its good name by granting top-ranking officials obscene bonuses, systematically lying to investors, and failing to reform its practices.
“Thankfully, AIG has avoided any action that might have sullied the public’s view of the financial industry as a whole,” said Sam Kerr, a father of three in Boise, ID. “Their decision today showed a tremendous amount of respect for the American taxpayer.”
“Honestly, they deserve a round of applause for this,” he added.