The Show Goes On

Sergio Marchionne was a bold genius who reshaped the auto industry, according to the Detroit Free Press. Mad Money’s Jim Kramer used to call him “a visionary.” Maybe. One could argue he bought Chrysler for almost nothing and rode the SUV boom. Also, the company today has no cars, much less an electric car. The re-introduction of Fiat flopped and quality remains below average.

Elon Musk’s fans consider him a bold genius who is reshaping the auto industry. He appeared in “Iron Man 2” to pump up his rep as a real-life Tony Stark and was fawned over in an episode of “The Simpsons.” Actually building cars has proved a little more challenging in real life.

Marchionne took over Chrylser from what should have been a dream team of executives, including Robert Nardelli, a protégé of the great Jack Welch at GE. Nardelli left when he lost out as heir apparent to Jeff Immlet, who then went on to run the company into the ground. Or did he? Or were the problems before Immelt ever sat in the CEO’s chair?

The paradox of managers is that they both get too much credit and too little. It’s true of all businesses and even the presidency. We like stories and stories have to have characters. The problem is when we come to place too much faith in these stories and that affects our finances. Marchionne’s death is sad and somewhat unexpected. It turns out he had health problems for a long time. Why would anybody be surprised a 66-year-old chain smoker would have health problems is beyond me. But they did and FCA stock plummeted when he died.

People often compare dramatic stories to soap operas. But if this were a real soap opera, an announced would just come on at the start of the next day’s show and say, “The part of CEO will now be played by…” And the show goes on.

Last modified on Wednesday, 15 August 2018 15:41

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