Like other financial-services CEOs, Wachovia’s Ken Thompson (WB) presided over an absolute disaster: billions of dollars of mortgage gambling losses, terribly-timed acquisitions, etc. When reporting this horrendous news, Ken had professed merely professed “deep disappointment” at the results. Now, finally, he’s being held accountable–sort of.
Wachovia’s board is forcing Ken Thompson to “retire.” In case you have any doubt about whether this is actually a “retirement”, Wachovia also announced that it is beginning a search for a new CEO. A better way of describing Thompson’s departure, therefore, would be a real-time defenestration.
And it’s about time. We don’t think CEOs like Ken should spend the rest of their lives whimpering in the corner about all that shareholder money they lost (and don’t worry: they won’t). We do think they should at the very least accept some symbolic responsibility for running their ships into icebergs. And if they refuse to do that–by quitting–they should be canned.