Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Various thoughts and comments---Paulson, NYT's sports columns , options sleaze and more

---What a relief to see Henry Paulson nominated for Treasury Secretary. On Saturday the NYT had Donald Evans as the likely candidate with the lead sentence of the article being "President Bush is leaning toward having one of his oldest friends take over the Treasury Department after a fruitless effort thus far to woo a star from Wall Street". How depressing that thought was---another Texas buddy with an oil and gas background to deal with this challenging time. But now it's Paulson, an experienced global finance leader who understands the most complex financial markets and their interrelated risks. John Snow did not seem to have any real power or the assertiveness to gain it, and his heart did not seem to be in his White House mandated arguments that everything was better for everybody. Paulson, from the Goldman environment, is no shrinking violet. He would not have taken the job if policy was going to be the sole responsibility of the Cheneyvellian White House. This is good news.

---Can Harvey Araton, Selena Roberts, Murray Chass and other NYT sports columnists please stop writing about Barry Bonds and the Duke lacrosse team. Column after column after column, week after week, even day after day. They can't let these two issues go. Does one of them think that their incessant moralizing will win them a Pulitizer Prize for insights that their normal sports beat doesn't offer. Araton actually referred to other sports writers as "sanctimonious" in his latest column today. How could he be so pompously blind. The entire group is no longer writing about the purported subjects of their columns. They are writing about themselves for themselves. I should note that it certainly is possible for any NYT columnist to aspire to a Pulitzer Prize after Gretchen Morgenson won in 2002 for her consistently lightweight and often misguided business columns. She was owned by a few fringe analysts with limited integrity but they made her look provocative. But heck, who cares, NYT connections and you got a Pulitzer. So go Roberts, Araton, Chass and the rest. Who knows, maybe you'll get a group prize for your self abuse.

---See www.bankstocks.com for a partial transcript of the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting Q&A. It's written by Matt Stichnoth and, while there's nothing earthshaking there, it's good down to earth commentary on current economic issues. The title of the article is "The Warren and Charley Show-2006".

---United Health Care's post dated option grant practice has now led to other companies with the same reprehensible behavior. This is straightforward theft from the shareholders(owners) of the companies that the involved executives were already paid, in some cases extravagantly, to protect, nourish, and lead. This almost childlike manipulation of the option grants by the executives involved, their legal advisors, and the compensation committees of their boards is appalling.


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