Daily Archives: November 24, 2008

John Gapper

I do not find Bill Ford’s efforts to make us believe in a leaner, greener Detroit car industry very convincing. Ford’s executive chairman has talked this talk for a long time, and is now trying to do so with Barack Obama, but his company has not walked the walk.

When Mr Ford became chairman of Ford in 1999, he focussed on environmental initiatives and talked about pressuring executives inside Ford to take global warming more seriously. He even installed a green roof on a River Rouge truck plant. Read more

John Gapper

Blu-Ray: “Everything is coming together. The only dark cloud is the economy.”

Reader’s Digest: “We’re completely uncool and we embrace that.” Read more

John Gapper

The downfall of Citigroup has taken place over a long time and involved many people, but attention is now focussing on the role of Robert Rubin, the former US Treasury Secretary, who is a Citi director and senior adviser and was briefly its chairman.

Mr Rubin has had an influential role at Citi since being brought on board by Sandy Weill in 1999 but has not been an executive. Having formerly been co-chairman of Goldman Sachs, he preferred to exercise influence behind the scenes.

He described his role thus when I interviewed him last year:

“People come by and want to talk about things. Some are unhappy with their jobs, others want to talk to me about how to approach a client or a government. My entire staff is two secretaries. That’s who reports to me.”

Now, of course, a big loss has been disclosed at Citi and various people are asking what Mr Rubin had to do with it. That was among the subjects covered in a long article in The New York Times on Saturday. It found that Mr Rubin and Chuck Prince, Citi’s former chairman and chief executive, played “pivotal roles” in the bank’s disastrous push into underwriting and trading collateralised debt obligations. Read more