Home » Author Archives: Joe Queenan (page 4)

Author Archives: Joe Queenan

Joe Queenan is a regular contributor on business issues, corporate culture, and financial follies to Barron's and The Wall Street Journal.

Pushing the Envelope

Sometimes the solution to a seemingly insurmountable problem is staring us right in the face. Beethoven used to bust flimsy harpsichords into smithereens until somebody hit on the practical solution of the grand piano. Holland would get flooded every winter until somebody dreamed up the idea of the dike. China suffered the depredations of marauding barbarians for centuries until it ...

Read More »

The Past Is Prologue

Two years ago, Jacob Alexander, one-time chief executive of Comverse Technology, fled to Namibia rather than face charges that he conspired to backdate stock options. If convicted of all 35 counts, Alexander could get sent to the slammer for 25 years. At present, the U.S. government is seeking to extradite its quarry from his base in Southwest Africa. According to ...

Read More »

This Is Just Not Happening

Newspaper readers instinctively turn to the same section every morning. For many it is the sports, for some the financial section, some actually start on page one with the bad news about the war, the stock market, Medicare. Not me. When I get my newspaper, the first thing I turn to is the crackpot essay on the op-ed page. Whether ...

Read More »

The Wealth of Nations

Anyone lucky enough to see the recent public television broadcast of the New York Philharmonic’s historic concert in Pyongyang can see why there has been so much contro versy lately about the rising influence of sovereign wealth funds. As maestro Lorin Maazel and the gang did their best to lift the spirits of the audience with some of the most ...

Read More »

Squashed

I rate shareholders, meddlesome hedge fund managers, know-it-all private equity guys and even the man in the street often act as if being a chief executive officer is a day at the beach, a stroll in the park, a picnic. This is a misperception, perhaps a deliberate one. CEOs, it just so happens, have to deal with shrinking markets, tumbling ...

Read More »

Lionizing Lackeys

Every once in a while, somebody comes along with a theory so brilliant, so iconoclastic and yet so blitheringly obvious that the rest of us sit around grumbling, “Why didn’t I think of that?” Such a theory is “followership,” a bold concept delineated in the new book Followership: How Followers Create Change and Change Leaders. The brainchild of Barbara Kellerman, ...

Read More »

Are We Having Fun Yet?

The day the Fox Business Channel debuted, the normally abrasive talk show host Bill O’Reilly advised anchors Neil Cavuto and Alexis Smith to “have fun with it.” Since then, the news team has taken the advice in the spirit it was offered, serving up a frothy mix of happy-face banter and chummy interviews. This reflects Fox’s strategy to make its ...

Read More »

Executive Action

High atop the category “Suggestions That Have Been Far Too Long in Coming” is a proposal to establish a corporate version of Doctors Without Borders. The idea, advanced by the Afri can-based journalist Jonathan Ledgard, appears in strategy+business, published by consultants Booz Allen Hamilton. Ledgard proposes that midcareer executives in the mood for a change of scenery, who are seeking ...

Read More »

Delusions of Democracy

p63_9

Back in the 1970s-the Gold en Age of Bad Ideas-scions of wealthy politicians got into the annoying habit of taking summer jobs as garbage men. This didn’t help real-life garbage men much, and it certainly didn’t help the unemploy ed stiffs who could have used the jobs the rich kids got to play at for the summer. The only people ...

Read More »

Hedging to Glory

p63_8

Catastrophe buffs warn that the next global financial cataclysm will involve some massively overextended hedge fund that makes the wrong bet on natural gas or Indonesian munis or the weather, and destroys life as we know it. Frankly, this can’t happen fast enough to suit me. I can remember a time when you could open the New York Times or ...

Read More »