This post was just too good to pass on. CNN. Money discusses the dumbest business moments – and probably some of the most difficult -in 2008. Will we learn from them for 2009?
1) Detroit execs flying to D.C.: The chief executives of General Motors (GM, Fortune 500), Chrysler and Ford spark outrage when they fly their corporate jets to Washington D.C. to beg Congress for a multi-billion dollar bailout.
2) Detroit execs driving to D.C.: Given a second chance after the private-jet fiasco to plead their case before Congress, the Detroit 3 take to the road.
3) Henry Paulson’s initial $700 bailout proposal: All of three pages, the Treasury Secretary seeks carte-blanche access to government funding with scant details on how or where the money will be spent.
4) The final bailout: When Congress is done with it, the measure balloons to 451 pages and is loaded with pork barrel spending – including, unbelievably, a cut in taxes on toy arrows and an extended tax break on “wool products.”
5) The Mozilo e-mail: The now former Countrywide CEO mistakenly broadcasts his thoughts on a customer’s plea for help with a home loan.
6) The iPhone ‘I am rich’ app: Eight people download a $999.99 screen-saver for Apple’s (AAPL, Fortune 500) iPhone.
7) Paulson’s ‘bazooka’: The Treasury Secretary tells Congress in July he thinks he won’t actually need to use the funds he’s requesting to support Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Tough talk from Fannie Mae: In May, CEO Daniel Mudd says his company will “feast” on weakened competition in the mortgage market.
9) Scandal at the Department of Interior: The agency’s Inspector General finds that staffers were taking gifts, having sex and engaging in illegal drug use with employees of some of the oil companies they oversee.
10) GM’s Lutz on global warming: The General Motors exec behind the Chevrolet Volt electric car hands environmentalists another twig to beat GM with when he reportedly calls global warming “a crock of sh-t.”
11) Hope for Homeowners – er, not really: Congress passes bill to keep hundreds of thousands of troubled borrowers in their homes. A whopping 321 applications get filed.
12) Ban the short-sellers: To head off a market onslaught, the SEC outlaws short-selling on 799 financial stocks. Remarkably, investors find other ways to punish the group and the sector sinks another 25 percent.
13) McCain on economics: On the morning of Sept. 15, as Lehman Brothers declares bankruptcy, Republican presidential candidate John McCain declares “the fundamentals of this economy are strong.”
14) Obama’s tough talk on Nafta: A top economic adviser privately assures Canadian officials in February that his candidate didn’t really mean it when he threatened to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement.
15) Microsoft bids for Yahoo: The $31-per-share offer represents a 61% premium over Yahoo’s (YHOO, Fortune 500) price at the time of the February overture.
16) Yahoo turns down Microsoft’s offer: If Microsoft’s (MSFT, Fortune 500) offer for Yahoo was wrong-headed, Yahoo’s opposition to it was downright bone-headed.
17) The Madoff miss: As news reports reveal that the Securities and Exchange Commission had probed Madoff and his New York City investment firm over the years, chief Christopher Cox cops to the embarrassing screw-up.
18) Oil speculator scapegoats: Are speculators to blame for $37 oil too?
19) Steve Jobs’ obit: In August, Bloomberg News accidentally releases an obit for Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who – despite a well-publicized brush with pancreatic cancer – is still alive and kicking.
20) Phil Gramm and the “nation of whiners”: In early July, as the financial crisis spreads to Main Street, McCain campaign co-chair and former senator Phil Gramm appeals to voters and their economic anxieties by calling them a “nation of whiners” and dismisses a troubled economy as a “mental recession.”
21) Bill Miller comes up short: The fund manager’s contrarian bets on Bear Stearns, AIG and Freddie Mac cost his investors plenty.
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