Wednesday, January 28, 2009

"Unable to Read the Air"

In yesterday's Financial Times, letter writer Takashi Ito introduces a Japanese idiom to describe ousted Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain's recent behavior:

Sir, The hot new word in Japan is “KY”. An abbreviation for “kuuki-yomenai”, it literally means unable to read the air. For an ex-Goldman Sachs partner, John Thain was astoundingly KY. He decorated his office as he laid off Merrill Lynch employees, and then he asked for a $10m bonus when the whole country had turned against excessive executive compensation. There was also the little detail that his company was not doing that well.

The height of his KY was the fact that he was buying company stock the day before he was ousted!

Now a true believer (in Goldman superiority) may say that he was buying stock because he knew his departure would ignite the share price, but I am not willing to give Mr Thain that much credit. Anyway, the stock dived on the news.

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