US Treasury sells remaining AIG shares for $7.6bn

New York-based insurer American International Group, Inc. (NYSE: AIG) has announced the completion of an offering of approximately 234.2m shares of AIG common stock by the US Department of the Treasury (Treasury).

According to AIG, Treasury received proceeds of approximately USD 7.6bn from the sale. The sale of these shares the last of Treasury’s remaining shares of AIG marks thefull resolution of America’s financial support of AIG.

Since September 2008, America committed a total of USD 182.3bn in connection with stabilizing AIG during the financial crisis.

Since then, through asset sales and other actions by AIG, theFederal Reserve, and Treasury, America recovered its USD 182.3bn plus a combined positive return of USD 22.7bn.

Beginning in May 2011, Treasury successfully sold approximately 1.7bn shares of AIG common stock in six public offerings for total proceeds of approximately USD 51bn, including approximately USD 13bn purchased by AIG.

Treasury continues to hold warrants to purchase approximately 2.7m shares of AIG common stock the sale of which is expected to provide an additional positive return to taxpayers.

US economy poised for growth, but austerity threatens

According to a report from Canada-based financial services firm Toronto Dominion’s (TSX: TD) (NYSE: TD) US-based TD Bank’s TD Economics affiliate, the main obstacle standing in the path of faster US economic growth is a strong headwind blowing in from fiscal restraint.

The report said that, without fiscal drag, the US economy would be headed for a growth trajectory in the 3-4% range in 2013.

It said that the worst of the consumer deleveraging cycle and its dampening effect on economic growth appear to be over. But just as the private sector is set to provide a welcomed tailwind to the economy, it will be met with worsening cross winds from public sector restraint.

TD Economics forecasts economic growth to average 1.9% in 2013 down from an estimated 2.2% in 2012. However, by the second half of next year, clearer fiscal policy should lead to resurgence in private demand, placing the economy on a stronger footing with 3.0% growth in 2014.

With a few weeks to go before deep spending cuts and tax hikes arrive and hamper economic growth, a deal to avoid them between the White House and Congress has yet to be reached.

TD Economics estimates that if all tax hikes and spending cuts are allowed to take place as scheduled, it would cut 3.0 %age points from real GDP in 2013.

The constraint on growth posed by fiscal policy comes amid signs that housing has entered a self-sustaining recovery. Home prices have risen consistently through 2012 while delinquencies and foreclosures have fallen.

TD said that the rise in home prices has been substantial prices are up 5.0% from year-ago levels and appears sustainable. The fall in construction activity over the last several years has cleared the supply overhang and allowed rising demand to pull up prices.

The housing market has also been the focus of the Federal Reserve, whose latest round of quantitative easing has focused on purchases of mortgage-backed securities.