Five Dumbest Things on Wall Street: Nov. 28
GM Jettisons Jet
General Motors (GM) is having trouble selling cars, but maybe it will have better luck unloading a pair of airplanes.
The CEOs representing the Big 3 automakers flew into a storm of criticism last week for taking private jets to Washington, D.C., to lobby Congress for a multibillion dollar-bailout package. The irony was so delicious that Rep. Gary L. Ackerman (D., N.Y.) said it's "almost like seeing a guy show up at the soup kitchen in a high hat and tuxedo.''
GM Chief Executive Rick Wagoner certainly got the point, although he would not publicly admit it. The nation's largest automaker announced on Friday it was already in the process of returning two of its leased corporate jets, even before Wagoner's humbling -- and pricey -- round trip to Capitol Hill.So Friday's announcement about GM jettisoning its jets was pure coincidence? Sure, and we have a bridge to sell you! GM started the year with lease contracts on seven jets, but cost-cutting eliminated two last September, before this week's decision to ditch two more. Ford's (F) air fleet currently numbers five jets, which the company owns. A Ford spokesman says the company is still trying to figure out what to do about its air travel plans. Maybe Wagoner and Ford CEO Alan Mulally can hitch a ride on Chrysler CEO Robert Nardelli's luxury jet on their next fund-raising journey to Washington. Nardelli famously pocketed more than $210 million in severance when he left Home Depot (HD) to join Chrysler's parent Cerberus, sneering at shareholder protests in the process. Nardelli obviously doesn't care about keeping up appearances, even when prostrating himself for public money. So in case you didn't get the message in Detroit, it's time to cool your jets. Dumb-o-meter score: 95 -- What dumb idea will the Big 3 dream up next? We can't wait to see.
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