Monthly Archives: June 2009

John Gapper

Further to my column of last week, the noises coming out of Washington about Barack Obama’s attempt to remake financial regulation are not encouraging. It is looking increasingly likely that the administration and Congress will fail to address the proliferation of overlapping regulatory bodies.

As the Wall Street Journal this morning notes, the Office of Thrift Supervision, which has been redundant since the Savings and Loans crisis of the early 1990s, may finally get absorbed into the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. But a new body would be created to oversee mortgages and consumer products. Read more

John Gapper

My column in the FT this week is on regulatory reform: Read more

John Gapper

Oh dear, oh dear. The outraged splash headline on the Huffington Post at the moment (“aggregated” from an original news source, as is its wont) is: “New GM Chairman: I don’t know anything about cars”. Inside, the site huffs and puffs about how extraordinary this statement supposedly is:

No experience is necessary to take the top spot at the bankrupt icon of Detroit’s automobile industry. Read more

John Gapper

As someone who generally believes in the separation of the chairman and chief executive roles at the top of big companies, I am encouraged by the emergence of Ed Whitacre, the former chairman and chief executive of AT&T, as chairman of the new General Motors.

The New GM board clearly needs to do a better job of management oversight than the old one did, since it took the US government to force GM into the kind of restructuring and slimming-down it had long needed to undertake. The old board was a very poor guardian of shareholders’ interests. Read more

John Gapper

Tony Jackson makes an interesting, and a bit scary, point about New General Motors, the part of the company that is supposed to spring out of Chapter 11 with its liabilities trimmed, ready to take on competitors in the auto industry.

Although New GM will have dealt with its healthcare liabilities, it will have the GM pension fund attached. He posits that this was because transferring it to the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation would have been too bitter a political pill. Read more

John Gapper

There has been a lot of discussion about the degree to which the new Palm Pre, which is launched tomorrow in the US, is a make-or-break-device for Palm. But it is also vital for Sprint, the much-derided network that will sell the Pre exclusively at least until the end of the year.

I went along to a Sprint Nextel event in Manhattan this morning to hear Dan Hesse, its chief executive, describe the Pre launch as its “coming out party”. Read more

John Gapper

Is Angelo Mozilo the Bernie Ebbers of the 2008 credit crisis? Mr Mozilo, the former chairman and chief executive of Countrywide, faces civil fraud charges and not criminal ones of the kind that led to Mr Ebbers, the former chief executive of WorldCom, being sentenced to 25 years in prison in 2005.

But the civil suit brought against Mr Mozilo by the Securities and Exchange Commission is a vivid portrait of alleged wrongdoing in Countrywide and of executives who are accused of knowing their lending practices at the height of the housing bubble were unsound. Read more

John Gapper

Further to my column on General Motors, I wonder whether the US government’s bail-out of Detroit is fated to go the same way as that of Wall Street. The White House wants to keep out of day-to-day decision-making in companies, but Congress is another matter.

As the FT reports, the Senate commerce committee is already weighing in with pressure on GM and Chrysler to amend their plans to close local dealers. This is a long-running sore with Detroit, since dealers were protected (before Chapter 11) by state laws: Read more