Tuesday, December 13, 2011

What an ego!

It's a difficult thing for the great majority of us to fathom, the mindset of those with egos burning brighter than a thousand suns. The assumption that one is just so much better, so much more important, so smarter, more attractive, athletically superior, or what have you pervades every industry with a public face, from politics to movies, from sports to TV news. But the true egomaniacs are few and, in my opinion, easy to spot.

And that's especially true when they flame out. Witness the Charlie Sheen show, that captivated the public for month after month. Or the semi-periodic Alec Baldwin explosions. But it's still easy to spot them, even when they don't explode, as is the case for star athletes like Cristiano Ronaldo, Terrell Owens, and Manny Ramirez, to name but a few. Team owners--like Jerry Jones--can be just as bad, ego-wise.

Certainly, there are also some mighty big egos in the world of high finance. Donald Trump goes where other egos fear to tread, it is true, but there are still others that approach the Trump in their self-certainty. Fabrice Tourre, former Goldman Sachs veep that was heavily involved with the creation of exotic securities, actually had the audacity to refer to himself in the third person as "the Fabulous Fab." Outside of professional wrestling, who does that?

But it looks like the Fabulous One has company, in the person of Jon Corzine. As I've previously discussed, Corzine is at the center of the collapse of MF Global. And despite the panegyric spin form friends, Corzine's star is sinking rapidly. New details are emerging about his activities as head of MF Global:
Mr. Corzine compulsively traded for the firm on his BlackBerry during meetings, sometimes dashing out to check on the markets. And unusually for a chief executive, he became a core member of the group that traded using the firm’s money. His profits and losses appeared on a separate line in documents with his initials: JSC.
This is no way to run company, at least for most people. It is, however, very much consistent with the Jerry Jones style of management. And in that same light, it's also consistent with someone approaching what they are doing--in this case running an investment firm--as a hobby, of sorts.

The problem with that, of course, is that real people worked for MF Global, real people were customers. And many of them are now out in the cold, thanks to Corzine's reckless activity and monstrous ego. Way to go, Jon.

Cheers, all.

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