American International Group Inc managed to lose $62 billion in just 92 days. That's nearly $470,000 a minute. And it's more money than Bill Gates' net worth.
The insurance giant's quarterly loss reported on Monday was the biggest in corporate history, topping the previous record of about $45 billion set by Time Warner Inc during the fourth quarter of 2002.
That news came as the government said it would plunge another $30 billion in taxpayer money into the ailing New York-based company, which already has received some $150 billion in US aid since September.
But that hasn't stopped the losses at AIG. The company, first wounded when the housing slump and credit crisis decimated the value of its investments in mortgage-backed securities, is now being hurt by the recession as well.
AIG's quarterly loss totaled $61.7 billion for the October to December period, about 12 times the $5.3 billion it lost in the same quarter of 2007. That was more than half the $114.53 billion lost by nearly all other Standard & Poor's 500 companies combined in the fourth quarter. This is the first quarter ever that the S&P 500 has tallied a loss.
AIG lost more in the fourth quarter of 2008 than it made from 2001 to 2007, when net income totaled more than $58 billion. Beyond just financial markets, this super-sized loss stands out. AIG's loss is more than Bill Gates' net worth of $57 billion as of last September, according to Forbes magazine's "400 Richest Americans" list that had Microsoft Corp founder Gates as No 1. The US government provided $62 billion for immediate relief and rescue efforts in the months after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. If $62 billion was spread across the US population, Americans could each get about $200.
AIG's loss amounts to 92 per cent of the $67.4 billion that Americans spent at world's largest retailer Wal-Mart Stores Inc. in the fourth quarter, which includes the holiday season. It would take a person spending $1 million per day, everyday, the next 169 years to spend as much money as AIG lost during the fourth quarter, which lasted just 92 days.