I just now stumbled on a piece published in September of 2009, recording (as it says) "10 Gaffes by Doomed CEOs." I don't think "gaffes" was the right word (they certainly don't meet the Kinsley definition) although all 10 share the common quality of looking enormously stupid in retrospect: "we continue bullish"..."we are not scared," etc.
I suppose a couple of these people could justly claim that they weren't at fault for the ensuing calamity--latecomers brought in to clean somebody else's mess off the carpet--but still what strikes me is how few of these have suffered in any significant way for whatever participation they may have had in creating the problem. I won't reprint the whole catalog of misstatements here, but I herewith offer up a listing of the gaffers, together with (as best I can identify) their current situation. Note that none is in a penitentiary, or in hiding, or tied to an anthill and covered with honey.
Stanley O'Neal, Merrill Lynch: on the board at Alcoa.
Charles Prince, Citigroup: "Prince is currently Vice-Chairman of Stonebridge International and serves in the influential trade group the Financial Services Forum, as well as a member of the Council of Foreign Relations, the Business Roundtable, and several other organizations" (link).
Angelo Mozilo, Countrywide Financial: Mozilo may have suffered more than most; he entered into a settlement with the SEC that required him to fork over perhaps eight percent of his net worth in fines, but without admitting wrongdoing (link).
Martin Sullivan, AIG: Sullivan continues to serve on a variety of professional and charitable boards while striving to hang onto the pay package he received on departure (link).
Alan Schwartz, CEO of Bear Stearns: Running an asset management firm; trustee of Duke University.
Richard Syron, Freddie Mac: Director of Genzyme; adjunct faculty at Boston College (link).
Richard Fuld, Lehman Brothers: Said to be associated with Legend Securities in New York (link); five months after his cheery pronouncement, he transferred his Florida mansion to his wife for $100 (link).
Rick Wagoner, General Motors: Board of Directors, Washigton Post (link).
John Thain, Merrill Lynch: Chairman and CEO, CIT Group (link).
Daniel Mudd, Fannie Mae: CEO, Fortress Investment Group.