"It was distasteful to make these payments."
AIG (AIG) chief Ed Liddy, testifying today before a House Financial Services subcommittee. He was, of course, talking about the infamous $165 million in retention bonuses that the bailed-out conglomerate paid out to employees. Liddy—who took charge in September and is working for $1 a year and no bonus—told Congress that employees who took home more than $100,000 in bonuses have been asked to return at least half their sum.
Good move. But Liddy is still under scrutiny for approving those bonuses in the first place. He told Congress that he determined that the bonuses couldn't be legally altered. And he said he believed that retention bonuses at AIG's financial products unit were necessary so that competition wouldn't steal the company's best talent.
That argument is weak. As my Fortune colleague Carol Loomis said on the Charlie Rose Show last evening, optics are ever important, and Liddy would have been far better off telling AIG employees that it wouldn't look good to take bonuses, so you're not getting yours. The New York Times' Gretchen Morgenson noted on the show that there aren't many financial-services companies hiring. Who would steal AIG's best talent?
When in crisis--or rather, always!--do the right thing. J.P. Morgan Chase (JPM) CEO Jamie Dimon tells a story about his team refusing to take bonuses at Bank One when he took charge of that company and it was on the brink almost a decade ago. Click here to read "Jamie Dimon: No bonuses for you!" - Pattie Sellers
Yahoo named Carol Bartz its new chief. With an appointment of Bartz, the former CEO and current executive chairman of Autodesk (ADSK), the Yahoo (YHOO) board is signaling that experience in general management and tech trumps a media and advertising background. Just as important, this is a bet on a boss known for guts and decisiveness - the latter a critical trait that Jerry Yang, the boss she is replacing, MOREPatricia Sellers - Jan 13, 2009 4:05 PM ET
This morning I read about the Democrats' hush-hush plan to ease Senator Robert Byrd out of his powerful post as chairman of the Appropriations Committee. Byrd is 90. What's most interesting here is who would inherit his job: Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii. Inouye is 84.
Age is relative, as they say. We're living longer. Our minds stay stronger. And particularly these days, age may be an advantage.
Look around at who's MOREJessica Shambora, Writer-Reporter - Oct 29, 2008 3:00 PM ET
Amidst the chaos in the markets, it's difficult to find time to breathe, much less pore over 2,500 pictures from our Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit in early October. But I finally made it through our trove and want to share part of it with you.
If you've been reading Postcards, you know that we had Warren Buffett with us for three days. What a treat. More than that, the Berkshire MOREJessica Shambora, Writer-Reporter - Oct 24, 2008 3:11 PM ET
Where did America's richest man and one of Wall Street's most powerful CEOs meet face to face for the first time after their $5 billion deal? The Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit, a three-day, invitation-only gathering of the world's most prominent women leaders.
So who let the guys in? Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B) and Goldman Sachs (GS) CEO Lloyd Blankfein were two of just three men invited this year; MOREPatricia Sellers - Oct 16, 2008 3:16 PM ET
My colleague Carol Loomis interviewed Warren Buffett today here at the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit in North San Diego. Buffett told us that he came up with a big idea literally while walking to the session this morning. Click here to read "Buffett: My fix for the economy."
Another highlight: Time Inc. CEO Ann Moore did a great on-stage chat with PepsiCo (PEP) CEO Indra Nooyi. Silicon Valley talent maven Juliet Flint MOREPatricia Sellers - Oct 2, 2008 5:31 PM ET
Greetings from Southern California! We're here for Fortune's 10th annual Most Powerful Women Summit which, even with all that turmoil across the global markets, is drawing the heaviest hitters in business, starting with Warren Buffett and Lloyd Blankfein.
The world's greatest investor and the Goldman Sachs (GS) CEO will be at our opening dinner tonight. It's a crazy coincidence since we invited these two men (our first time inviting men) months ago. Then, last week, the MOREPatricia Sellers - Oct 1, 2008 1:57 PM ET
Did you see WWE Raw Monday night? I did. First time ever. Why? (Good question!) Because Fortune was front and center. Big John Bradshaw Layfield, known as JBL to pro wrestling fans, was hawking our new issue for one reason: His wife, Meredith Whitney, is on the cover.
Whitney, in case you don't know, is Wall Street's force of nature. The Oppenheimer analyst has recently knocked billions off the stock-market capitalizations MOREPatricia Sellers - Aug 5, 2008 1:21 PM ET
Another prominent woman made a move Monday: Pam Nicholson, No. 44 on Fortune's Most Powerful Women in Business list, was named president and COO of Enterprise Rent-a-Car.
Enterprise may not be on your radar because the company is privately held. But it's remarkable in many ways: Enterprise is the world's largest rental car company, with revenues approaching $13 billion. (You thought Hertz and Avis were No. 1 and No. 2? Enterprise MOREPatricia Sellers - Aug 4, 2008 4:27 PM ET
"The companies acquired the usual encumbrances of success--among them arrogance and bureaucracy--and they devised new ways to fail as well. Or, precisely, their executives did. Companies don't stumble; people do. As Peter Drucker has said: 'Every failure is a failure of a manager.'"
-- Carol Loomis, Fortune senior editor at large, wrote this in a legendary 1993 cover story, "Dinosaurs?," about General Motors (GM), Sears (SHLD), and IBM (IBM). The article MOREPatricia Sellers - Jul 3, 2008 2:26 PM ET
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