Saturday, October 11, 2008

Clueless Non-Financial Manager Watch

Only six days before, when a Wall Street analyst had asked GE chief Jeff Immelt about the possibility of the company's selling new equity, Immelt had answered unequivocally: "We just don't see it right now. We feel very secure about how the funding looks." - Jeffrey Immelt

And the others, drank the Kool-Aide:

Executives Gary Wendt and Denis Nayden had aggressively globalized the business, and now all the major economies (and most of the minor ones) were growing simultaneously at healthy clips, an unprecedented occurrence. Interest rates were low. Every kind of asset seemed to be appreciating. For a big finance operation with low funding costs, opportunity was everywhere. During that period GE Capital levered up, growing its ratio of debt to equity from 6.6 to 8.1. Profits quadrupled to almost $11 billion, more than the profits of Procter & Gamble or Goldman Sachs.

And, finally, we can say that the Emperor - you know who - has no clothes:

Analyst Nicholas Heymann of Sterne Agee spoke for many when he wrote: "Investors now understand that GE uses the last couple weeks in the quarter to 'fine-tune' its financial service portfolios to ensure its earnings objectives are achieved. It turns out it really wasn't miracle management systems or risk-control systems or even innovative brilliance. It was the green curtain that allowed the magic to be consistently performed undetected."

[It's okay, everyone knew it. But Mona Lisa smiles have to come uncovered, from time to time, that's all, just so we don't completely detach from reality...]

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