Wednesday, October 21, 2009

No Drama Obama

TC continues to find Barack Obama an extraordinary political leader - a talent without parallel in my lifetime.

Here is a testimonial from the Wall Street whiz who presided over the auto bailout:
New to business meetings with Presidents, I found Obama's style consistent with his 'No drama Obama' image and on a par with the best CEOs I had spent time with. He was cordial without being effusive and decisive when his advisers were divided....
Read the rest of it here.

I also read the full account of the bailouts here in Fortune. Here are some highlights:
Among the surprises along the way: We were shocked, even beyond our low expectations, by the poor state of both GM and Chrysler. Looking just at the condition of GM's finances and Chrysler's new-car pipeline, the case for a bailout was weak.

But on the other hand, as we surveyed the interconnected web of finance companies, suppliers, and related businesses, the potential impact of the likely alternative -- liquidation -- stunned us. We imagined that the collapse of the automakers could devastate the Midwest beyond imagination. We were determined not to fail. But as we started down the road, we saw mainly obstacles....

And this description of GM management:

Everyone knew Detroit's reputation for insular, slow-moving cultures. Even by that low standard, I was shocked by the stunningly poor management that we found, particularly at GM, where we encountered, among other things, perhaps the weakest finance operation any of us had ever seen in a major company.

For example, under the previous administration's loan agreements, Treasury was to approve every GM transaction of more than $100 million that was outside of the normal course. From my first day at Treasury, PowerPoint decks would arrive from GM (we quickly concluded that no decision seemed to be made at GM without one) requesting approvals. We were appalled by the absence of sound analysis provided to justify these expenditures.

The cultural deficiencies were equally stunning. At GM's Renaissance Center headquarters, the top brass were sequestered on the uppermost floor, behind locked and guarded glass doors. Executives housed on that floor had elevator cards that allowed them to descend to their private garage without stopping at any of the intervening floors (no mixing with the drones).

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