Risky Business

A Golden Boy of business and politics, until now. He was a darling of his political party, for he was generous with his money. He was a man of influence, until now. Now, I doubt the party wants to take his call.

Bold and daring at heart, and ever-optimistic that things will go their way, Promoters will take tremendous risks to get what they want, and seem exhilarated by walking close to the edge of disaster.” Please Understand Me II

He has taken risks all his life. Starting as a bond trader in Goldman Sachs, he rose through the ranks to become co-CEO. With his help the company went public, he became worth $400 million. Losing to Hank Paulson, for the CEO job of Goldman, he switched to politics. He wasn’t shy in using some of that money he gotten to get elected as first as a US Senator and then Governor of New Jersey. He spent over $62 million of his own money on his campaign, the most expensive Senate campaign in U.S. History.

Jon Corzine, had a self confidence that he would win all the time if he persisted, having supreme confidence in his skills. And he had been successful throughout his life as a financial wizard or a political wizard. Working hard as Governor; sometimes spending his own money to get things accomplished. Corzine spent some $200,000 of his own money on advertisements to promote a referendum on the 2007 New Jersey ballot to borrow $450 million to fund stem cell research. But eventually he was defeated and out of politics. He went back to Wall Street.

In March 2010, Corzine became CEO and Chairman of MF Global, a multinational futures broker and bond dealer. Ambitious, Corzine saw that MF Global had the potential to be more than a brokerage firm. Corzine replaced old-line traders and brokers with more aggressive hires from trading houses he knew and interacted with before. Having confidence in ‘risk management,’ Mr. Corzine’s message to traders was clear: take more risks. “He was instrumental in pushing our firm forward with risk taking in every book” said one trader. “Everything was full throttle go.”

European sovereign debt looked especially tempting. Instead of the near-zero yields on United States Treasury bonds, short to medium Spanish and Italian bonds were earning 2 to 3 percent. Simply holding those to maturity and collecting the yields would buttress profits as other financial opportunities shrank. After the 2008 financial crisis, most Wall Street firms sharply ratcheted down their use of leverage, Corzine’s MF Global continued to pile on large amounts of debt. On the eve of MF Global’s collapse, it had about $34 of debt for each $1 of capital it held.

Promoter Artisans often push the envelope, and occasionally can crash and burn. Jon Corzine has appeared to have crashed: he has resigned from MF Global and hired a lawyer. Whether he will fade from view or rise like a Phoenix like many Promoters can do, only time will tell.

0 thoughts on “Risky Business”

  1. ‘Take more risks’-I wonder the ratio on bankruptcy then, comparative for other temperament. Actually now it has me wondering for temperaments on wealth building. I am thinking Masterminds, Inspectors, in that order.

    1. In the past, the many of big wealth builders were the Provider Guardians: Sam Walton, Ray Kroc, Rowland Macy, Conrad Hilton to name a few. They were the first to understand a way one can succeed in business is provide good service to the customer. It is true, currently two of the most wealthy men in the world are: #2 Bill Gates (Mastermind) and #3 Warren Buffet (Inspector). Even more interesting a Promoter Artisan, Larry Ellison, is #5. Then again, there is the “individual’s” wealth and the resulting “enterprise” which is not the same. Inventor Rationals, for example, Steve Jobs (Apple) and Walt Disney (Disney Company) have a very big market capitalization.

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