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Tag Archives: AIG

I read both WSJ and NY Times. One leans right and the other left. Unfortunately, many times the rantings (both legitimate and not) make it difficult to wade through the discussions.

I think an important aspect of corporate governance is mission. When corporations lose sight of their mission and focus solely on profitability as their only yardstick then anything goes.

For example if AIG had stuck to insurance as their mission, their means of delivering profits, and therefore wealth, AIG would be a very strong company today.

Another example is GM (I’m inferring a lot from the news articles and I might be wrong but time will tell).

At some point in their history GM prided itself for its differentiation strategy. It knew of every nook and cranny of the auto market, but today by way of profitability, GM is essentially an SUV/truck company.

GM lost sight of its need, its mission, to satisfy the transportation needs of the American public, and set its sights on profits at any expense. In a sense we can say that GM allowed SUV/trucks to subsidize the other segments of its business.

Worse still, its development of the electric car (in my opinion) is something to appease stakeholders. GM’s electric car, the Volt, is not a serious contender for the consumer market as it does only 40 miles on a charge.  The average American drives 33 miles per day. (So you know why 40 miles per charge!) Note these are averages, so a Volt owner is going to be severely restricted ie don’t sell your first car. The need to keep your first car is going to reduce the potential market even further.

Compare this with the Tesla at 244 miles per charge. So the Volt is a dud.

The same can be said of the banking industry, sub-prime is a dud. And probably securitization as we have know it.

Once you control a juggernaut, making profits by itself is easy, just don’t reinvest in your future and you will look good for a while. In brand management this is called ‘milking’.

Corporate governance needs to deal with two issues, (1) staying focused i.e. missions, and (2) seek a balance or to temper “profits today” with “a future tomorrow”.

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Disclosure: I’m a capitalist too, and my musings & opinions on this blog are for informational/educational purposes and part of my efforts to learn from the mistakes of other people. Hope you do, too. These musings are not to be taken as financial advise, and are based on data that is assumed to be correct. Therefore, my opinions are subject to change without notice. This blog is not intended to either negate or advocate any persons, entity, product, services or political position.
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In his article Why Governments Can’t Run a Business Gordon raises many good issues, but Mr. Gordon here is a reminder and rebuttal to each of your points:

1. Governments are run by politicians, not businessmen.
Quite obviously I do not know how you would define businessmen. Remember, Worldcom, Enron, Arthur Andersen, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, AIG…

2. Politicians need headlines.
Using the examples above I can understand why businessmen don’t like headlines.

3. Governments use other people’s money.
How do banks get their funds?

4. Government does not tolerate competition.
Have you forgotten Standard Oil?

5. Government enterprises are almost always monopolies and thus do not face competition at all.
Oh wow, if cutting cost is alien to the culture of all bureaucracies, then private medical insurance must be free by now, right?

6. Successful corperations are run by benevelont despots.
Sorry, I forgot GM had over-looked 50 years of losing market share.

7. Government is regulated by government.
Have you forgotten what happened to Wall St in 2008 with minimal regulation?

 

My point is, blaming the other side either overtly or covertly, is not going to help America.

Benjamin T Solomon
Managing Principal
QuantumRisk LLC

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Disclosure: I’m a capitalist too, and my musings & opinions on this blog are for informational/educational purposes and part of my efforts to learn from the mistakes of other people. Hope you do, too. These musings are not to be taken as financial advise, and are based on data that is assumed to be correct. Therefore, my opinions are subject to change without notice. This blog is not intended to either negate or advocate any persons, entity, product, services or political position.
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Felix Salmon’s blog How Much Worse Can AIG Get? got me wondering.

If AIG believes that it must pay $165 million in bonuses to retain it key people at the severe risk of public rath, and government displeasure, don’t you think that the problems we have seen at AIG are only the tip of the iceberg?

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Disclosure: I’m a capitalist too, and my musings & opinions on this blog are for informational/educational purposes and part of my efforts to learn from the mistakes of other people. Hope you do, too. These musings are not to be taken as financial advise, and are based on data that is assumed to be correct. Therefore, my opinions are subject to change without notice. This blog is not intended to either negate or advocate any persons, entity, product, services or political position.
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