Tiger Woods and GM, Citigroup and the Mets

By Michael Vass | November 24, 2008

Today all eyes are pointing towards Citigroup and what they have been doing, or failing to do. Thousands have lost their jobs, tens of billions of dollars are being poured into the company. And unlike AIG, Citigroup is not sending their employees to luxury spas for a breather. Nor are they giving up on celebrity endorsements like GM with Tiger Woods. No, they are putting their name on the Mets baseball stadium for $400 million of your tax dollars.

Wow.

I mean what else can be said here. Citigroup is going forward with putting their name on a stadium (a policy I dislike in all stadiums) with your money as 401k’s and taxes are used to fund it. No wonder they ran through the intial $25 billion the Government gave them. And Congress is asking AIG and the auto industry for reforms and guarantees. For over a year now, no one thought this expenditure was worth noting? Hey Barney Frank, you didn’t get a memo on this – Mr. Head of the Banking Committee.

I mean GM has bailed out of their deal with Tiger Woods. They bought themselves out of their deal a year early. I’m sure it cost them more than a bit to do so, but at least they did something to save a few bucks. And I’m sure Tiger was more than happy to let them do it.

Tiger Woods is too big a brand to be tied to the failure of the auto industry. The last thing he needs is the media tying him to a huge payout funded by an auto bailout. That would be bad for his image, bad for PGA golf, and America. Nobody wins in that scenario. And I doubt he is hurting for the money.

Of course GM is losing the worst. Tiger looks like a hero for saving the company money. He can easily say that he does not want to be paid at the price of workers jobs, or taxpayer debt increases. And that would be true. But GM looks like an idiot for not moving forward sooner. And losing Tiger, the Super Bowl ads, and who knows what other advertising means fewer cars sold.

But at least this looks a little bit better for them after their luxury corporate jet trip to ask Congress for billions of dollars.

Citigroup on the other hand could care less. At least that’s what it looks like. They are spending more useless money than Tiger’s endorsement (the full 5 year deal), buying a new corporate jet, all the Super Bowl ads, and the AIG spa trips put together and multiplied by 10. At the very least will shareholders get a discount to go to Mets’ games in 2009. Even 1 game in the baseball season? I doubt it.

The big question is will this reflect badly on the Mets. They are getting paid a stupid amount of money, as is New York City, to have the field given this dumb name. There are thousands of employees of Citigroup that work in the corporate headquarters in NYC. How will they feel watching the Mets play, knowing that the field’s name cost them their job. Or anyone who invested in Citigroup. They might have lost the ability to go to games, or even to live in their home, because of the stock devaluation due to the mismanagement and they have to watch this team play in a place that sucked their money away.

Mets fans always have had it rough, being in the same city as the Yankees. But this is a new thing that really doesn’t have anything to do with baseball, yet it may well have a massive impact on the game.

And if you are wondering why Citigroup didn’t do something back in January (at the latest) when they knew things were getting bad? Its because they were sure of one thing. They are too big to fail. They can waste money like a drunk pissing on the side of a building. It is wrong, but they don’t care. And the Government knows it.

But let me ask you which you think is worse. Is it worse to lose Tiger Woods’ endorsement, and ads during the Super Bowl and ask for money, or to spend money on the name of a baseball field and demand the public pay for it? Then let me know why you think Congress (especially Chris Dodd and Barney Frank) seems to think GM is the bigger bad guy.

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