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NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Every year on New Year's Eve they count down the seconds before dropping the ball in New York City's Times Square. Down here at the Five Dumbest Lab, we have a year-ending celebration of our own: We count down the 10 biggest moments on Wall Street where a CEO or company dropped the ball.
Last week, we offered you
numbers 10 through 6
of our favorite flubs from 2009. Now, here is the moment you've all been waiting for, the Five Dumbest Things on Wall Street in 2009. Happy New Year everybody!
5. Michael & Me
(Originally published 6/4/09)
Michael Moore is enjoying the last laugh over
GM's bankruptcy. But we are having the best laugh over his plan to turn the Motor City into Grand Central Station.
Filmmaker and provocateur Michael Moore danced on GM's grave Monday, posting a letter to readers where he expressed "joy" over GM's demise. Writing from his hometown of Flint, Michigan, surrounded by "friends and family who are filled with anxiety about what will happen to them and to the town," Moore cranked the schadenfreude up to 10, reveling in the fact that his once powerful nemesis -- well, his first nemesis since he has now amassed quite a collection -- is now gone.
One might think that Moore would cut the company a little slack considering it played such an instrumental role in launching his career. Twenty years ago, Moore shot to fame producing and starring in "Roger & Me," a documentary in which he illustrated the negative impacts of then-GM CEO Roger Smith's decisions to shut several auto plants in Flint.
Clearly there would be no Moore had there been no Roger, and the world would never have discovered the director's talents for raking muck at
Wal-Mart(WMT - Get Report) and trespassing on Charlton Heston's property without getting shot.
Nevertheless, Moore's ungracious attitude toward his late co-star is not the bone we are picking with the director today. No, the reason we single out his missive as worthy of our dumbest list is his misguided plan for Detroit to manufacture cabooses instead of cars.
In his letter, Moore advises President Obama to act like President Roosevelt did after the attack on Pearl Harbor and "tell the nation that we are at war and we must immediately convert our auto factories to factories that build mass transit vehicles and alternative energy devices."
"Let's hire the unemployed to build the new high speed lines all over the country. Chicago to Detroit in less than two hours. Miami to DC in under 7 hours. Denver to Dallas in five and a half. This can be done and done now," Moore urges.
Whether the Denver/Dallas corridor is a hot market for travelers, we don't know. And Moore does not provide statistics on the matter, so we can only assume he doesn't have a clue either. We are also not sure if he has ever heard of a government-owned railway called Amtrak which is expected to lose $476 million in 2009.
As to whether Moore has the slightest awareness that railway bankruptcies due to overbuilding have been the rule rather than the exception in America from the Civil War through Conrail, well, you'll have to jump on a train to Michigan to ask him.
Better yet, take a flight, it's faster and most likely cheaper.
Five Dumbest Final Thoughts -- Hey Mike, even toymaker Lionel Trains went bankrupt in 2004.