As if there aren’t enough opportunities to be reminded of the disaster that has been the presidency of George W. Bush, I had another glaring reminder this week.
While attending a Symposium on Enterprise Risk Management, I was present for a discussion panel consisting of a number of corporate executives who also serve on the Boards of other publicly traded corporations. The audience was made up mostly of Risk Managers and Quantitative Analysts for major banks, insurance companies and energy companies. There were probably 800 to 1000 people in the room, as members of the panel were presented a series of questions on the role of the Board in assessing and managing risk for a large firm.
One of the questions was a pretty basic one: What are your main concerns today regarding risk assessment?
The most striking answer to this question came from a man who has spent 35 years as a private equity investor and valuation expert, who also serves on the Board of three other companies, and who specializes in purchasing and turning around failing companies, often after leveraged buyouts. He is clearly a very wealthy and successful man – one of those who might be considered by our President to be among “the haves and the have-mores.”
His answer was quite telling about the impact of the last six years under the current administration. He prefaced it by recounting a lunch that he had with five business acquaintances, all of whom happen to be chairpersons of one of different Federal Reserve Banks across the country. He noted the surprise he felt at hearing of their shared fear over the possibility of a financial meltdown in the US economy.
His answer to the question can be paraphrased as follows:
“I worry that America is more vulnerable and more disliked than at any time in our history!”Hearing the bluntness of this statement, and the ease with which the audience seemed to nod its collective head at the response, I could not help but think that this is going to be the Bush legacy – leaving the country with a precarious economy in a world without friends!
And this is going to be the Bush legacy for Bush’s proclaimed friends, not just his political enemies and detractors!
And all but a small, and shrinking, group of Bush’s proclaimed friends already know it!