Too Fat To Fly?
You know the old Wall Street maxim, "Bulls make money, bears make money and pigs get slaughtered"? Well, we have a Five Dumbest addendum: "And fat cats don't fly."
Lloyd Blankfein, chairman and chief executive officer of Goldman Sachs (GS) (Stock Quote: GS), John Mack, CEO of Morgan Stanley (MS) (Stock Quote: MS), and Richard Parsons, chairman of Citigroup (C) (Stock Quote: C), phoned into a meeting with President Obama and the nation's top bankers on Monday after their flights were delayed because of fog in Washington.
Blankfein and Mack were reportedly stuck waiting for US Airways (LCC) (Stock Quote: LCC) flights from New York's LaGuardia and Westchester airports, respectively, while Parsons "was delayed in New York," according to a Citigroup statement.
(LCC) Come on, guys! Have you never heard of Amtrak? How about hitching a ride on Jamie Dimon's private jet? The JPMorgan Chase (JPM) (Stock Quote: JPM) CEO made it to the White House on time, why couldn't you?
"I appreciate you guys calling in," Obama told the no-show bank executives on speaker phone as the session began at the White House. "I'm sorry that the flight got held up."
Then again, maybe President Obama felt a tinge of remorse after referring to Wall Street's elite as "fat-cat bankers" on 60 Minutes the night before the big powwow.
Wait a second. Could you repeat that, Mr. President? There seems to be a problem on the line and Wall Street can't hear you.
Dumb-o-meter score: 75: Goldman Sachs CEO is smart enough to make billions of dollars trading stocks, but is too dumb to check the weather report? Oh please.
SIGA's Super Sale
The biotechnology company, which specializes in the development of pharmaceutical agents to fight biowarfare pathogens like smallpox, offered $20 million in common stock Thursday, raising $18.6 million in net proceeds for "general corporate purposes." All told, SIGA sold more than 2.7 million of its outstanding 38.3 million common shares at $7.35 each, or more than 15% below Wednesday's closing price of $8.66.
Unfortunately, had those supposedly lucky purchasers of SIGA stock at Thursday's offering price waited one more day, they could have done better. A lot better.
On Monday's conference call, SIGA CEO Dr. Eric Rose claimed he had no advance knowledge that the government was changing its plans.
Dumb-o-meter score: 80: SIGA shareholders thought they were getting candy canes on sale. Turns out they were the suckers.
Target Misses Milk Mark
The Minneapolis-based retail giant fessed up to wrongly advertising soy milk as organic, according to a Nov. 12 letter sent by the USDA to the Wisconsin-based farm policy group called the Cornucopia Institute. As a result, Target said it is changing its procedures to make sure the slip-up never happens again.
Well, at least that's a better excuse than saying it bought a bunch of magic soybeans a la Jack and the beanstalk. (We'd expect that kind of nonsense from Wall Street analysts, not Midwestern discounters.)
To be honest, we here at the Five Dumbest Lab can't tell the difference between organic and inorganic milk. It's not that we are lactose intolerant, just lactose ignorant.
Dumb-o-meter score: 85: How about our new slogan: Got Dumbness?
Credit Suisse's Lost Credit
The investment bank agreed to pay $536 million this week to settle a probe over financial dealings with Iran. The settlement papers reveal Credit Suisse had a long-running business assisting Iranian banks evade sanctions by hiding the identity of their Iranian customers in international money transactions.
Credit Suisse said it expects to record a fourth-quarter pretax charge related to the settlement of 445 million Swiss francs ($427.4 million). But in our opinion, it's not about the money. Credit Suisse mints so much of the stuff that even this onerous fine won't really make them flinch.
And it wasn't just Iran. Authorities reported that Credit Suisse was also skirting international sanctions by doing business in Libya, Sudan and Burma. In each case, Credit Suisse counted its gains while the oppressed peoples in those respective nations lost their dignity, and the international community lost a weapon to fight social injustice.
Dumb-o-meter score: 90 -- One more black eye for the banking industry.
Sanofi Skimps On Shots
The vaccine maker Sanofi-Aventis announced this week that it is recalling four lots, or 800,000 doses, of its pediatric H1N1 swine flu vaccine because of a lack of potency. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which discovered the problem as part of a quality assurance program, made it clear on Tuesday that there is no safety concern, and children vaccinated from the lots already will not need to be re-vaccinated. The affected vaccines are prefilled syringes for children under age 3.
Come on! We know you have been under pressure to meet the huge demand for the stuff, but that doesn't mean you can get sloppy trying to get it out the door.
Or if Sanofi slips up again.