Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Fortune magazine put together the 21 quintessentially dumbest moments in business of 2008. My favorites include: 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 11, 12, 16, and 18. If you have any additions for the list, please send me an email or comment below. BTW, I use the word stupid in excess in my comments below.
From Fortune (including excerpts):
1. Detroit pleads poverty - in style:
2. Lamest road trip ever:
Let's see...corporate jets are a no-no...the subway doesn't go that far...A bike ride might just kill us...I know! Let's drive the 10 hours from Detroit to D.C. - in one of our cool hybrid cars! … Given a second chance after the private-jet fiasco to plead their case before Congress, the Detroit 3 take to the road (separately, of course) in a company fuel-sipper.
RW: = Several seriously stupid CEOs that are not deserving of our hard-earned $ mullah.
3. Paulson's 3-page plea for $700B:
All of three pages, the proposal seeks carte-blanche access to $700 billion in government funding to buy up troubled mortgage assets at the root of the financial crisis - with scant details on how or where the money will be spent.
RW: He should have just been “not so stupid” when drafting his slap in the face to the American taxpayer…
4. Bloating up the bailout:
Maybe three pages wasn't such a bad idea after all...When Congress is done with it, Paulson's proposal for saving the U.S. financial system balloons to 451 pages and is loaded with pork barrel spending - including, unbelievably, a cut in taxes on toy arrows and an extended tax break on "wool products."
RW…because we ended up paying $ billions more in mostly new and unecessary spending packages.
5. Mozilo's 'disgusting' reply-all:
Mozilo instead hits "reply all" and sends a response calling the beleaguered homeowner's request "unbelievable" and "disgusting."… Mozilo's heartfelt reply makes its way onto the Internet - and the onetime real estate king finds himself out of a job after Bank of America acquires Countrywide in July.
RW: Okay, the CEOs get ousted – why not the firms themselves (ahem, AIG)?
6. An iPhone app for just $999.99:
But one application sneaks past Apple's gatekeepers and onto the company's new App Store: "I Am Rich," a $999.99 screen-saver whose sole feature is a glowing red jewel. Apple gets blasted for making the application available for sale and then quietly removing it, but the real losers? The eight suckers who bought it.
RW: Wonder if they got a refund? Who would be stupid enough to buy a screen-saver worth $1,000?
7. Paulson's 'bazooka' backfires:
Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson assures Congress that merely promising to give the beleaguered mortgage lenders access to Treasury funding would calm market fears - at no cost to Uncle Sam…. Two months later, Treasury takes over both companies in a move that could cost taxpayers billions of dollars.
8. Fannie's delusions of grandeur:
In May, [Fannie Mae CEO Dan] Mudd predicts that the government-sponsored mortgage lender will "feast" on weakened competition in the mortgage market.
RW: Feast? If he means on American $ 200 billion + in American taxdollars, then he was right on!
9. Sex for oil:
The agency's [Department of Interior] Inspector General finds that staffers were taking gifts, having sex and engaging in illegal drug use with employees of some of the oil companies they oversee.
RW: This probably made FOX news – you know, the classiest of all papers.
10. Global warming? What a 'crock':
The General Motors exec behind the Chevrolet Volt electric car hands environmentalists another twig to beat GM with when he reportedly calls global warming "a crock of sh-t."
RW: Again, stupid CEOs. No wonder the American auto industry has been slowly deteriorating.
11. Housing rescue comes up short:
Remember Hope for Homeowners? We didn't think so. In July, Congress passes the only housing rescue to date: a plan to guarantee up to $300 billion worth of mortgages and prevent more than 300,000 foreclosures.
RW: I didn’t forget about it – this plan was too complicated and doomed to failure right from the get go. I do seem to remember a provision of $2-$3 billion to help foreclosure-ridden cities. Wonder what happened to that? AIG?
12. Cox's short-selling ban:
SEC chief Christopher Cox finally institutes a temporary ban on shorting, or betting against, 799 financial stock… some investors say the short ban hastened the flight of capital from stock and bond markets, by showing the government could intervene in markets in unexpected and troublesome ways.
13. McCain's economic denial:
On the morning of Sept. 15, as Lehman Brothers declares bankruptcy, Republican presidential candidate John McCain declares "the fundamentals of this economy are strong." …By day's end, the Dow falls more than 500 points, the date becomes known as Black Monday, and McCain starts backpedaling fast.
14. Obama's tough talk on NAFTA:
In a rare off-message moment for Barack Obama's presidential campaign, a top economic adviser privately assures Canadian officials in February that his candidate didn't really mean it when he threatened to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, which U.S. blue-collar workers complain has shifted jobs to Canada and Mexico.
15. Microsoft overbids for Yahoo:
Microsoft makes a $44.6 billion play for Yahoo in yet another bid to catch up to Google. The $31-per-share offer represents a 61% premium over Yahoo's price at the time of the February overture.
16. Yahoo turns down payday
RW: = more stupid CEOs
17. SEC's Madoff miss:
Leave it to the markets to do the SEC's job for it.
RW: Ahem, number 12?
18. Rage against oil speculators:
Oil traders, hedge funds, Wall Street types...they're all to blame for artificially inflating the price of crude….Or so the thinking (and Congressional hearings) goes until prices suddenly collapse throughout the fall, bringing oil down to about $37 a barrel. The culprit this time? Softening demand amid a reeling global economy. So much for thinking fundamentals.
19. Jobs' 'greatly exaggerated' death:
In August, Bloomberg News accidentally releases an obit for Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who - despite a well-publicized brush with pancreatic cancer - is still alive and kicking.
RW: I seem to remember another slip up with UAL.
20. Phil Gramm's 'mental recession':
In early July, as the financial crisis spreads to Main Street, McCain campaign co-chair and former senator Phil Gramm appeals to voters and their economic anxieties by calling them a "nation of whiners" and dismisses a troubled economy as a "mental recession."
RW: That is classy! Almost as classy as FOX News' reporting.
21. Bill Miller's bad bets
RW: Thank you Fortune for a spat-on representation of 2008's biggest bloopers! Rebecca Wilder