Wednesday, April 20, 2005

CEOs Cry For Help

Ah, the rare and endangered noble American CEO. Humble servants working for the good of all the employees and citizens of our country and the world. Gates, Welch, Lay, Greenberg? Yes, Greenberg. In case your subscription to CEO magazine has lapsed and you missed it Maurice Greenberg was named CEO of the Year in 2003 by Chief Executive magazine. When they looked far and wide across this great land and reviewed all of the titans of industry, Hank (its always cool to have a nick name when you are CEO) was the top dog. In the award cermony Greenberg received a standing ovation after explaining how he had "improperly booked loans as insurance policies" and then really got the crowd into a frenzy with claiming he invented "bid rigging and even made my kids practice it every day before school". A titan among titans. We worshipped at his feet. That is, until old pesky Eliot Spitzer came along and started sniffing around. Greenberg has had to resign his position since he apparently was so good at improperly booking loans and bid rigging that he overstated earnings by a billion or two. And in case you missed it, Greenberg Jr, also a CEO (must be the genes) was also recently forced to resign from his job at Marsh & McLennan for "bid rigging".

The following bit didn't make it into CEO magazine but the Washington Post article had this gem. Greenberg didn't go quietly. Its great when the CEO loses it and his "disdain for shareholders" comes shining through:

"Traveling the world in the AIG jet, he was often treated like a visiting monarch and was on a first-name basis with many world leaders. He could not hide his disdain for shareholders, regulators, reporters -- or, in the end, his disloyal directors. "You couldn't even spell the world 'insurance,' " he yelled at them over the speakerphone from his boat in Florida as they met in New York three weeks ago to consider his fate, according to a Wall Street Journal report."

These CEO's are getting mad. And now CEO magazine wants to stop the madness before it gets too out of control. They have called for Eliot Spitzer to resign. They don't like how the Greenberg's have been treated.

"His treatment of (American International Group Inc.'s) Maurice R. Greenberg, coming on the heels of the forced ouster of Mr. Greenberg's son, Jeffrey, from Marsh & McLennan, is a case in point. Once again, Mr. Spitzer has charged in and discovered pattern of practices he doesn't like. He is applying a new set of values to reinsurance practices that had been in place for years"

This Mr. Spitzer and his "new set of values" must be stopped. He must resign. The CEOs have been doing this "for years" and they really don't want to give it up. It you'd ever been "treated like a visiting monarch" you'd understand why they don't want to have to change their ways.