It sounds to me like former MF Global (NASDAQOTH: MFGLQ) CEO Jon Corzine is a little lost. A Wall Street Journal article last month described him as showing "signs of restlessness and frustration" following the failure of the futures broker and the drawn-out aftermath thanks to the disappearance of more than $1 billion in MF Global customer money.
Lost, restless, frustrated. By my calculations, that's probably about where Corzine should be at this point.
Even if we leave aside the potential criminal and civil legal issues that the former senator is fighting, there's reason for all of us to be relieved that Jon Corzine is loafing around, unemployed and probably pretty unhappy.
I don't say this out of schadenfreude and animosity -- by just about all accounts from those I talked to who knew him and interacted with him, he sounds like a genuinely nice guy. And I could give a hoot for the political firestorm that's swirling around all of him, since that strikes me as, at best, a distraction.
No, the reason I'm a little relieved to see Jon Corzine out of work is because he did a bad job managing MF Global. Plain and simple. The oversized trade that he set up was a wholly inappropriate exposure for MF Global. And it's not like this was some one-off fluke for Corzine -- the man's a risk-taker through and through and just isn't who you want to see running your company. With so many around the country out of work, it's kind of nice to see a rich financial executive who lost his job because of poor performance sitting on the sidelines as well.
Don't get me wrong, I'm all about good old American values like second chances and picking yourself back up when life knocks you down. But we've also got to be realistic, here, and when you blunder the way he did, boards of directors shouldn't be rushing to put you in a top spot at their company. Not that that's always the way it goes -- financial executives that were involved in meltdowns, crashes, and other shenanigans seem to be forever popping back up like a bad game of banking Whac-A-Mole.
For instance, Stan O'Neal, the bubble-era chief of Merrill Lynch is a director at Alcoa (NYSE:AA) and investment manager American Beacon Advisors. He was paid $240,000 in 2011 by Alcoa. Former Citigroup (NYSE:C) CEO Chuck Prince is a board member at both Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) and Xerox (NYSE:XRX). Between the two, he was paid more than $450,000 last year.
Meanwhile, Lehman Brother's disgraced chief, Dick Fuld, has apparently started up his own corporate advisory firm, Matrix Advisors. Tiny reverse-merger "green chemistry company" GlyEco (NasdaqOTH: GLYE) was listed as owing Fuld's advisory shop $230,000 as of September.
To be sure, there's also opportunity for Corzine to slink off into the horizon. Since taking their respective cues to exit stage right, little's been heard from Bear Stearns' Jimmy Cayne, Countrywide's Angelo Mozilo, or Bank of America's (NYSE:BAC) Ken Lewis (well, besides Sheila Bair calling him out as a "country bumpkin" in her book).
Of course, Corzine doesn't strike me as the kind of guy that is eager to go live the quiet life, out of the spotlight. My guess is that if we wait a couple of years -- assuming, of course, that "criminal" doesn't get appended to his resume -- Corzine will pop up somewhere. Maybe it'll be finance, perhaps politics, but love him or hate him, I have a feeling we haven't heard the last of Jon Corzine.
Got a take on where he might end up? Share it in the comments section below.