Fool Blog: Too [Blank] to Fail, Part II

Not only do Henry Paulson and his buddies have a big TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program), but it appears they may be getting less and less selective about exactly what kind of companies can seek shelter under it.

I recently caught word that insurers like MetLife (NYSE: MET  ) might end up included in the program. And now, General Motors (NYSE: GM  ) is seeking more government aid, and automobile financing units may also be allowed to crawl under the TARP. (GMAC is seeking bank status in hopes it can be included in the funding.) Yep, these are stocks only the government could love, all right.

Are you getting the impression that things could get ridiculous now that Paulson & Friends have the giant financial super-blaster bazooka that is TARP? I know I am. That's why I felt moved to do a follow-up to my piece from September, Too [Blank] To Fail. Remember, this is for entertainment purposes only, and not meant to comment on whether these particular businesses are particularly failure-ready. I just think that if you don't mind a little gallows humor, there's a lot to mock in these crazy times.

  • Too patriotic to fail: Bank of America (NYSE: BAC  ) . If Henry Paulson and Ben Bernanke think confidence is bad now, well, gosh, maybe any company with "America" in its name just shouldn't be allowed to lose. (And heck, maybe Bank of America could even merge with the U.S. Treasury!)
  • Too important to fail: GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK  ) . One word: Paxil.
  • Too shallow to fail: Abercrombie & Fitch (NYSE: ANF  ) . Perhaps few companies are more emblematic of a decade-plus of excess and absurdity than Abercrombie & Fitch, which peddles mundane, overpriced clothes to kids, using often ironically under-clad marketing and, in an ugly yet not surprising twist, apparently has a policy of rating employees by their faces.
  • Too adored to fail: Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) . I'm pretty sure there are millions of people who believe a world without Apple would be a world not worth living in. That would be extremely bad for the already beleaguered economy. (Related funding needed: cryopreservation research due to rampant paranoia about Steve Jobs' health, which could also prevent 18-year-old "citizen journalist" jokers from inadvertently having their way with Apple's stock price.)
  • Too completely lame to fail: Warner Music Group (NYSE: WMG  ) . This company resides within an industry that seems to favor a business model that looks backward, prefers finding and marketing mainstream bile, and loves to sue its own customers, who arguably also provide extremely effective word-of-mouth marketing -- yeah, that sounds "good enough for the government" to me.

Please feel free to join in the fun, and use the comment boxes below to crack some jokes on some companies that you can humorously argue are too "something" to fail. These may be rough times (super weird ones, too), but at least we can try to keep our senses of humor intact.  

GlaxoSmithKline and Bank of America are Motley Fool Income Investor picks. Apple is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.

Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned. The Fool has a disclosure policy.


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  • Report this Comment On October 30, 2008, at 2:20 PM, rb7385899 wrote:

    well, government intervention to distort market prices is the root of the problem, isn't it?

    whether its manipulating fannie and freddie to make zero down mortgages to people who don't even qualify for a credit card, or bailing out big money contributors like bear sterns even as they're being sued for fraud, there's no end to government largesse.

    wouldn't letting bear stearns go under be the ounce of prevention that would have made the rest of the financial community realize they couldn't count on a govt handout?

    with each govt intervention, the markets just sink lower (a day later, after the euphoria) because intervention further disrupts the markets' ability to find the actual "value" of a stock, a distressed mortgage, or an automaker.

    we are about to enter a decade of financial distress, ala the 1930's, based on government compassion.

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