We Have Words to Describe Ken Lewis
One of them is ungrateful. Hypocrite is another.
Bank of America
CEO Ken Lewis slammed a potential auto-industry bailout this Tuesday. The banking bigwig made his remarks just as auto executives from
were on Capitol Hill begging for a $25 billion emergency bridge loan to avert a collapse of one or more of their companies.
"I think there's one too many" automakers, Lewis said to the Detroit Economic Club during a meeting in Cobo Center, the downtown convention center that's home to the North American International Auto Show each January.
"I think the American people are suspect of just giving more money and buying more time," he told reporters following the speech, according to
The Associated Press
. "They want to see that the companies have, in fact, changed and the strategies have changed."
Sorry Ken, but bankers in glass houses shouldn't toss grenades.
Lewis shouldn't balk at anyone getting a handout, after nine large banks, including Bank of America,
, received $125 billion last month.
Oh, and what did Lewis do with the $25 billion of the government's largesse that you said you didn't need? Instead of lending it out to Americans being crushed by the credit crisis, like he was supposed to do, he announced this week that Bank of America is buying more shares of
China Construction Bank
, raising its stake to 19.1% of the company.
If a Big 3 bailout fails, at least taxpayer dollars will be squandered over here, not half a world away.
Dumb-o-meter score: 95 -- Banks had their turn to beg Congress, let automakers have theirs.
No Double Dipping, Aegon!
wants to dip into not one but
Aegon applied for more than $1 billion in U.S. government support Tuesday. To qualify for the funds, the Dutch company, which owns U.S. life insurer
and generates three-quarters of its operating profit in the U.S., may buy Maryland-based
Suburban Federal Savings Bank
reported. Without the purchase, Aegon can't hold out its corporate palm.
Hey, why not buy another bank to get some government aid? Everybody else is doing it. Just this week
The Hartford Group
announced plans to buy small savings and loans in order to meet the requirements to get a piece of the $700 billion bank bailout.
The big difference is that Aegon already received 3 billion euros from the Dutch government last month. And now they want to go dutch with the U.S. taxpayer, too?
And get this, Aegon admits it doesn't even need the money -- CFO Jos Streppel said this week that the company "has a sufficient capital buffer given our recent actions."
How dumb is that -- admitting they don't need the money but asking for it anyway? They should be rejected from the government give-away for that reason alone.
At least U.S. banks are smart enough to tell the government how miserable they are.
Dumb-o-meter score: 85 -- The Bank of Five Dumbest would like to apply for federal funds, too!
Fannie Faces Eviction
New York Stock Exchange
may soon send
( FNM) an eviction notice.
Mortgage-financing giant Fannie Mae announced on Tuesday that its stock failed to satisfy NYSE price-related requirements and may lose its listing. The NYSE requires that the average closing price of a stock remain above $1 per share. Fannie Mae stock, which a year ago was trading as high as $40.45, closed at 47 cents Tuesday.
Let's get this straight because the irony is just too delicious to swallow. Washington-based Fannie Mae, which along with fellow mortgage player
( FRE) owns or guarantees about half of the U.S.' $12 trillion mortgage market, may have its shares evicted from their home on the NYSE.
You just have to smile at that one, even if it sounds as sickening as the $29 billion third-quarter loss the company announced last week.
Fannie is likely to tap the $100 billion government lifeline from Washington early next year to remain solvent. Meanwhile, back on Wall Street, if Fannie Mae notifies the NYSE of plans to boost its share price, it has six months from the Nov. 12 date of the notification to bring the stock above $1 for 30 consecutive trading days and remain listed.
So will Fannie be kicked to the curb?
Dumb-o-meter score: 80 -- Talk about a kick in the Fannie
Parsons' Loser Email
Dick Parsons' sympathy plea for
Chairman Sir Win Bischoff is a real loser.
In a Nov. 13 email to employees worldwide, Citigroup board member, and former
CEO Richard Parsons set the record straight, denying a
Wall Street Journal
report claiming the board was considering him for Bischoff's job.
Parsons called the news coverage "irresponsible and completely inaccurate," adding that the board of directors and management are operating as "one team completely aligned on critical issues, opportunities, and the direction of the company."
Parsons then listed the company's so-called "accomplishments," like raising new capital and reorganizing its businesses, before signing off in his email with an inspiring "Keep the Faith!"
Um, sorry Dick, but we doubt the troops at Citigroup have any faith left in you, considering your mismanagement of what was formerly the world's largest bank. As for the direction of the company, well, we'll just point out that the stock price is down to $8 a share.
Soon, Parsons and his boardroom buddies may be the only "team" left at the company. On Monday, the besieged bank said it was cutting approximately 53,000 more jobs over the coming quarters. Citi's total
is being reduced by 20% from its peak of 375,000 at the end of 2007.
So Dick, we have to ask: How can Citigroup employees "keep the faith," when they can't keep their jobs?
Perhaps more Citigroup employees would keep their jobs if Parsons would eventually lose his.
Dumb-o-meter score: 70 -- There is no 'Group' left in Citi.
MGM CEO's Third Degree
CEO couldn't take the heat over his graduate degree. So he got out of the casino.
Terrence Lanni suddenly announced his retirement last week from the casino giant's top spot, spinning the same tired yarn about wanting to spend more time doing charity work.
Fair enough, we thought at the time. He's been on the job 13 years, and with the stock down 90% this year and Las Vegas on the mother of all economic losing streaks, it made sense for Lanni to pass the torch before things got any worse. (As in the
Las Vegas Sands'
flirt with bankruptcy.)
Then we discovered that Lanni's resignation was arriving just a few hours ahead of a
Wall Street Journal
report revealing that, counter to his corporate biography, the gaming CEO did not earn a master's degree in finance at the University of Southern California. At learning that, dear reader, we knew we hit the stupidity Jackpot.
A USC spokesman said Thursday that Lanni finished classes toward the degree between 1965 and 1967 but was never awarded a diploma. Lanni's spokesman says that he was awarded an honorary degree from the school at a ceremony in 1992, before adding that the academic inquiry had "no bearing whatsoever" on his retirement.
Unfortunately, the school says no honorary master's degrees in business have been awarded since 1933.
We couldn't make this stuff up; we'll leave that to Lanni.
Dumb-o-meter score: 65 -- Literally speaking, some CEOs never learn.
Before joining TheStreet.com, Gregg Greenberg was a writer and segment producer for CNBC's Closing Bell. He previously worked at FleetBoston and Lehman Brothers in their Private Client Services divisions, covering high net-worth individuals and midsize hedge funds. Greenberg attended New York University's School of Business and Economic Reporting. He also has an M.B.A. from Cornell University's Johnson School of Business, and a B.A. in history from Amherst College.