Celebrating Corporate Failure

Nobody knows prices like Mr. Market. And that’s precisely why the US government is so scared to subject him to any serious line of questioning…it’s afraid of how bad the answers might be. But what’s really to be scared of?

Left to their own devices, there is little doubt that institutions like the nation’s largest insurer and its flagship automakers would have already found their place in the corporate tar pit. But instead of letting these dinosaurs die in disgrace, DC greases up the paddles, cranks up the voltage on the world’s largest defibrillator and goes to work trying to keep them alive.

But to what end? We’re told it’s because they’re “too big to fail.” They need to be bailed out…stimulated…pumped full of adrenalin then made to walk in a straight line and touch their nose. Of course, all that medical attention costs money…and lots of it. And, since the government doesn’t have any of its own, you get the bill.

An army of semi-conscious, half-extinct financial sponges and a multi-trillion dollar tab to keep them all alive… Ain’t that just what a struggling economy needs?

The curious investor might ask whether that money couldn’t be better spent somewhere else, by someone else, and for someone else. That same investor might see these lobbying leeches as a drag on the overall economy. He might even dare to wonder if, after all is said and done, they weren’t simply “too stupid to succeed.”

The problem with impeding the natural selective processes of the marketplace is that you’re always left in “survival of the weakest” mode. Corporations that don’t have to answer to Mr. Market won’t. Instead, they’ll invent conjuring tricks like mark-to-model pricing and assorted other shenanigans…always safe in the knowledge that if judgment day ever comes, Uncle Sam will be there to change their bedpan.

Here at The Daily Reckoning, we see things a little differently. Don’t get us wrong, we relish the opportunity to mock corporate inefficiency and near-criminal idiocy in the boardroom. It makes our job as armchair commentators that much easier. Even so, we prefer to see a quick death…one that doesn’t require tax-dollar sponsorship.

That’s why we’ve decided to relaunch the Daily Reckoning Financial Darwin Awards. It’s our way of saying “thank you” to those companies that, through their own dedication to stupidity and an unwavering inability to adapt to the marketplace, have removed themselves permanently from the corporate gene pool.

Incidentally, nominations for this year’s prize are now open. We’ve received votes for an array of individual companies and, unsurprisingly, for just about every level of government bureaucracy you can imagine…from the US Postal Service to the “entire state of California.”

If you would like to nominate a freshly extinct company for our 2009 Daily Reckoning Financial Darwin Awards, simply drop us an email at dr@dailyreckoning.com

The Daily Reckoning