Thursday, January 15, 2009

Where is General Marshall When We need Him?/ Promote the Parrots/

I am now convinced that the best alternative is to replace all of the titans of finance, other than a few at JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs, with trained African Grey Parrots, possibly have a bunch of them trained to just say no by that Harvard professor who wrote the book Alex and Me.  I really do believe that Alex could have managed Merrill Lynch, Washington Mutual, Lehman, Bear Stearns, AIG, Bank of America, Wachovia, and Citigroup better than the 20 million + a year financial wizards that ran those companies into the ground.  Give me a parrot brain over those real bird brain managers any day. TAX AND SPEND OR BORROW AND SPEND?/ Managing the Future Now/African Grey Parrot for President of U.S. or Just Citigroup?
All the Parrot would have to say are such words and phrases such as "No", "That's Stupid",  " SELL THOSE DAMNED CDOS MORON",  "ARE YOU KIDDING ME, STOP", etc.  This really is what everyone is searching for, pay the parrot some of their favorite foods, maybe spend a couple of hundred a year on that,  pay someone minimum wage to entertain them, and dispense with those 100 million rewards for destroying the American financial system. 

Intel's earnings were weak as expected, falling to 4 cents after a charge, with revenues coming in at 2 billion below its initial estimate which was subsequently revised down by the   A tentative revenue forecast for the 1st quarter was about 300 million below current estimates.Yahoo! Finance I came close to buying some today when it fell below 13 but decided to wait and review the earnings release and a transcript of the earnings call.  I own 70 shares and proceeding at super glacier pace in adding anything to my existing tech positions and a slower pace than that (more like watching grass grow)  in buying new ones like Cisco or Oracle, both on my to do list.   
One of the latest stories involving the trials and tribulations of a BAC shareholder comes from Reuters.  It pegs the amount requested by BAC at 15 billion plus some guarantees which of course sounds like what Citigroup just received but possibly on a much smaller scale. Yahoo! Finance

Much is said by the likes of Charlie Gaspirino and others that Bank of America and Citigroup are too big to manage.  Maybe, the real problem is that they did not have the right compensation systems in place, appropriate risk management, and a limited number of competent people with authority managing day to day operations.  By compensation, I mean rewarding someone 20 million a year when the compensation is generated by taking outsized risks to justify the compensation. There was no reason for Citi to load up on mortgage CDOs.  One prudent person could have stopped the destruction of these companies.  The problem is that the CEO, another 20 million a year wizard, and/or the Board would have fired that person.  They would not have lasted a week.  The problem was not that these companies were too big to manage but the identity of the top people selected to manage.  Most of that blames goes to the Board for picking incompetent people and rewarding irresponsible risk taking.  All of the Board of Directors for major financial institutions have to be replaced with experienced, competent and prudent individuals.  New teams of individuals to run day to day operations need to be installed, many of whom may already exist at those institutions but are certainly not now in a position of authority.  They probably exist in all of them.  So it would be a little like George Marshall coming in at the start of WWII, seeing all of the deadwood at the top of the Army, and then going down to the rank of Colonel to find competent military leaders like Bradley, Eisenhower and Patton.   Another problem is that risk management was undermined by those pursuing their own self interest in these companies.  Do you need someone to spend a lot of time to figure out that the AIG Financial Products unit, which is what brought the company down, was a disaster waiting to happen and to gain control over it much sooner, narrowing and restricting its operations, firing some of the whiz kids, and putting someone with good judgment about risk in charge of the quaints. 

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