Friday, May 15, 2009

He's Real and He's Tall

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to bask in the golden glow of capitalist He-Man John Alison. He was speaking at the Chicago Club, in an event hosted by FreedomWorks (Dick Armey's organization) and The Heartland Institute, where I interned last summer. Alison was speaking on the causes of the financial crisis, and gave a presentation almost identical to the one I linked to on this blog that he did back in January in D.C. Still, it was fun to see him talk in person.

It is also worth mentioning that BB&T, the bank which Alison led for over twenty years, has applied to pay back its TARP money, money they were forced to take in the first place. They have to raise new capital to do so, unfortunately, and that requires raising new equity, as well as temporarily cutting their dividend. This was especially difficult for them, because they pride themselves on not having cut their dividend in thirty-some-odd years. Now-CEO Kelly King made an excellent justification in his letter to shareholders, though, in which he stated that even though they hate to do it, the interests of shareholders are better served by getting out from under His Majesty's TARP thumb than by keeping the dividend high this quarter.

It is far too rare in business that leaders embrace uncomfortable reality head-on, and do what's best for shareholders in the long-run. The leadership of BB&T deserves much praise and respect.

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