GEORGE TOWN, CAYMAN ISLANDS—Amid the bleak backdrop of imminent economic collapse, worried observers got some good news last October when executives from the nation's top 10 failing companies celebrated the historic $700 billion government bailout with an ultra- extravagant $800 billion party aimed at restoring confidence and bolstering their resolve.
"It's never ideal for private corporations to rely on public funding, but we would not have been able to survive another week without letting loose and throwing this massive bash," Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain said aboard his newly purchased $22 million yacht, the Excelsior. "We can only hope it's not a case of too little too late."
Three thousand guests were reportedly flown on 750 separate private jets to the Caribbean, where they commemorated the last-minute financial aid package—which saved their companies from the subprime mortgage crisis that has left thousands of Americans without homes—with 4-tons of Beluga caviar, $250,000 bottles of vintage Dom Pérignon served over precious gems, a 36-hour fireworks display, an additional loan of $200 billion to cover the costs of the gala, and a private concert for each attendee with rock legend Rod Stewart.
Held October 4–7 on all three of the Cayman Islands, the historic economic-stimulus celebration, spokespeople said, sent an important signal to the world that Wall Street was weathering the crisis in style.
"I'm glad we were all humble enough to recognize that we couldn't do this on our own," said AIG CEO Edward Liddy, sitting in a hot tub filled with Cristal and seven dozen endangered-quail eggs. "Having come so close to disaster, it is crucial that I eat these 24-karat-gold-leaf-wrapped chocolate truffles to boost stockholder morale and show all the critics and naysayers that we are carrying on just as we always have."
"Do not worry, America," Liddy added. "It's business as usual at AIG."
In a sign of the new era of financial responsibility ushered in by the bailout, the CEOs estimated that they came in a full $100 billion under the party's projected $900 billion budget—a windfall they immediately reinvested in their companies' ailing executive-Christmas-bonus divisions.